The Sheriff (Revenue) offices – Their role and record keeping in a conveyancing context.
The origins of the State’s various Sheriff’s Offices predate Irish independence. Deriving from English legal antiquity, these sheriff’s functions include the enforcement of court judgments. Presently, trade creditors and individuals can obtain judgments and use sheriffs (Cork & Dublin) or County Registrars (All other counties) to enforce payment.
However, for debts owed to the Irish State, all taxes, interest and duties are collected via the Office of the Revenue Commissioners. These Revenue Commissioners in turn can confer (via warrant) their Sheriff’s power on their own appointees, that is the sixteen Revenue Sheriffs across the country.
These Sheriffs (Revenue) are appointed as officers of the court (Section 12, Court Officers Act, 1945), and are authorised (Section 960L, Taxes Consolidation Act 1997) to carry out the enforcement of certificates by the State (Section 485, Income Tax Act, 1967, or any amending Acts), and most noteworthily can do so without the need for judgment being given against the taxpayer.
As part of their role, the sheriff (Revenue) offices maintain a register of enforcement certificates lodged with their offices for execution against goods and chattels. It is against these registers that Sheriff (Revenue) searches are conducted.
Why should the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer search the Sheriff (Revenue) registers when investigating title in a property/ right/ interest purchase?
As a matter of course, generally Revenue will first obtain a Court judgment (stemming from the High Court, Circuit Courts and District Courts) against a recalcitrant taxpayer. Subsequently a warrant to enforce judgment may be lodged with the Sheriff (Revenue) against whose registers are recorded all such executable judgments.
A Revenue Judgment is valid for 12 years during which time Revenue is entitled to progress with execution of the Judgment, that is, enforce the Judgment by taking further action such as Judgment Mortgage, Forced Sale, Instalment and Committal Orders, Bankruptcy for Individuals, Liquidation of Companies, Mareva Injunctions, Garnishee Orders and/ or Receiver by way of Equitable Execution.
For the purchasing solicitor/ conveyancer a matching entry appearing in the sheriff (Revenue) register can alert them to the potential parsing of a judgment into a judgment mortgage against the sale property, and the inconvenience of the premises possibly being saleable only under court supervision.
It could also be indicative of other potential impediments i.e., bankruptcy, company insolvency coming down the line for the seller, and the knock-on effects of same.
How and what to search for on the Sheriff (Revenue) registers?
Purchasing solicitors/ conveyancers needs to consider the following:
Seller Names: In practical terms, a Sheriff (Revenue) register search is typically conducted against the names of the individuals (and/ or entities) selling and in conjunction with the exact address of the property/ right/interest being sold.
Purchasers Names: Additionally, when there is an undertaking by the solicitor to protect the interest of a lender/ lending institute where there is a mortgage to be issued, searches may be also conducted against the names of those persons or entities purchasing the property/ right/ interest, but solely in conjunction with their own address (not the sale premises as they have no beneficial interest in the sale property prior to purchase).
What will the Sheriff (Revenue) register search show me?
In the High Court such judgments are known as ‘orders of fieri facias or fifa’. In the Circuit Court these judgments are described as ‘execution orders against goods’, and in the District Court they are referred to as ‘Court’s judgments or decrees sent to the Sheriff or County Registrar to enforce’.
Revenue Sheriff certificates will disclose (if any) executable orders that are extant, i.e., remain unsatisfied and still effecting individuals and/ or legal entities in association with the given premises.
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Did you find the above information to be of interest? Why not check out one of our other Ellis & Ellis explainers for some related searches below; –
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