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Research Guides

Commonwealth Government Records about South Australia


Commonwealth powers in relation to bankruptcy and insolvency derive from Section 51 of the Constitution, but in practice date from 1928 when the Bankruptcy Act 1924 came into operation. It superseded the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Acts of the states. A Federal Court of Bankruptcy was established in 1928 and functioned until 1977 when the responsibility was absorbed into the Federal Court.

Within each bankruptcy district, a Registrar in Bankruptcy and an Official Receiver in Bankruptcy was appointed. South Australia became a Bankruptcy District in 1928.

The duties of the Registrar in Bankruptcy included hearing debtors' petitions and giving sequestration orders; arranging public sittings and questioning debtors; approving unopposed compositions or schemes of arrangements; ordering the examination of any person able to furnish information about a bankrupt's property, trade dealings and affairs; administering a bankrupt's affairs including payments out of their pay, profits or other income; and authorising the Official Receiver to commence and prosecute any action.

The functions of the Official Receiver included the administering of bankruptcies, including the statutory requirements under the Bankruptcy Act 1966. The Official Receiver is also responsible for the role of trustee of the estates of bankrupts and deceased persons.

The duties of the Official Receiver were to investigate the conduct, property and transactions of bankrupts under the direction of the court.

Records held by the Archives relating to bankruptcy in South Australia include estate files, trustee files, registers and administration files.

Selected series relating to bankruptcy in South Australia
Recorded by: Bankruptcy Branch, South Australia – Registrar in Bankruptcy
Bankruptcy estate files/sequestration order files, 1928 D1169
Creditors' petition files, 1928 D1283
Register of persons declared bankrupt, 1928–91 D5331
South Australian bankruptcy estate files, 1928– D1012
Trustee files, 1928 D4882
Trustee files, 1931–42 AP360/2
Administration files, 1931– D5260
Part X proceedings files, 1963–66 D1115
Register of objections to discharge of bankrupts, 1969–90 D5382
Registers of bankruptcy notices issued, 1976–96 D5332
Registers of matters, 1977–96 D5406
Recorded by: Bankruptcy Branch, South Australia – Official Receiver in Bankruptcy
O/Rs administration books and files, 1901–52 AP41/1
List of bankrupts, 1928–74 AT1881/11
Register of assets books and sheets, 1928–85 D4026


Chapter 12