Series VPRS 5328
Civil Action/Cause Books
About this Series Related Series Accessing the records in this Series
Date Range: Series ? 1841 - 1989
  Series in Custody 1841 - 1989
  Contents 1841 - 1989
Public Access: Part Open
Location: North Melbourne
Format of Records: Physical
 
Agency which created this SeriesAgency which created this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1841 - 1852 Supreme Court of N.S.W. for the District of Port Phillip VA 914
1852 - 1989 Supreme Court of Victoria VA 2549
Agency currently responsible for this SeriesAgency currently responsible for this Series
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Date Range Agency Title Agency Number
1852 - cont Supreme Court of Victoria VA 2549
Description of this SeriesDescription of this Series
  • How to use the Records
    Refer to the consignment details and retrieve the civil action/cause book for the appropriate year.

  • Function / Content
    This series was used by the Prothonotary's Office as a record of all civil actions initiated in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The volumes were originally known as 'Action Books', but the title changed to Cause Books in 1885. These books were used to record the history of each action by noting details about the action and the documentation lodged.

    A civil action was initiated when a plaintiff filed a summons at the Prothonotory's Office. The summons set out a complaint against another party, the defendant. It sets out the nature of the plaintiff's complaint and also a provision that if the complaint is met by a specified date, the action would cease.

    The defendant then has three alternatives. He can either:

    - meet the complaint on the summons and thus end proceedings,

    - do nothing, in which case a default judgement (and costs) would be awarded by the court in the plaintiff's favor, or,

    - contest the action through the lodging of a document known as an 'appearance'. Only if this latter alternative is followed does an action become a civil trial.

    Details regarding each action are spread over 2 folios (4 pages) in these books. The first two pages identifies the parties involved and detail the nature of the action. Information contained on these pages include, the number of the action, the names of the plaintiff, defendant(s) and their solicitors, the date of filing the summons, the entering of the appearance, a description of the complaint, damages sought and, if applicable, details on the issuing of writs of copias ad satisfaciendum (ca.sa) or fieri facias (fi.fa.). (A fi.fa directs the sheriff of the Supreme Court to seize assets belonging to the defendant with a view to auctioning them to satisfy the complaint on the summons whilst a ca.sa. also sees the defendant arrested. An attempt by the plaintiff to have one of those writs issued with the summons is usually an indication that the defendant is a declared insolvent.

    The second folio (the last 2 pages of the 4), was used to document details of contested actions or default cases. Blank entries on these pages indicate that the defendant met the complaint on the summons. Details on these pages include: date of the close of pleadings (the pre-trial phase in which the facts of trial are described by the parties), date of delivery of trial papers, whether an action is for trial or assessment of damages (default cases became an assessment for damages, such cases being indicated by the word 'default' in this column), whether trial by judge alone or with jury, trial date, verdict, costs, details of final judgement, details of issue of fi.fa. or ca.sa. with the judgement and remarks. The remarks column usually notes details of any subsequent court action, the issue of any nisi rules and the filing of sundry information.

    Between 1841 and 1854, the details entered upon the second pair of folios in the Action/Cause book were entered in a separate series. This is VPRS 5331 Judgement Book which is indexed by VPRS 5330 Index to Judgment Book.

    The actions are arranged in action number order, the action number being an annual single number. The action number was issued when the summons was filed by the plaintiff at the Prothonotary's Office. Entry into the series is via VPRS 5327 Index to Action/Cause Books [1843-1975]. This index is arranged by the surname of the defendant, divided into alphabetical groups. The name of the plaintiff and the action number are given and the action number allows entry into the Action/Cause Books. The Index to Action/Cause Books (VPRS 5327) is used in conjunction with the Action/Cause books (VPRS 5328) for entry into VPRS 267 Civil Case Files [1852-1919].

    Details on civil cases can also be located in VPRS 5329 Action/Cause Judgement Books (1859-1982) which lists the outcome of all contested actions or default judgements, VPRS 5330 Index to Judgements which records the same for 1851-1858; VPRS 5332 Execution Books [1855 to 1980] which notes all actions in which a fi.fa or ca.sa was issued; VPRS 5377 Rule Book [1855-1886] which records actions in which Rules Nisi were issued and VPRS 5388 Debt Attachment Books [1856-1941].

  • Recordkeeping System
    Cases were registered in VPRS 5328 Action / Cause Books and indexed/entered in alphabetical section by family name of the defendant in VPRS 5327 .

    The civil briefs were filed in VPRS 267 Civil Case Files.

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Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
? 1842 - ? 1972 Index to Action/Cause Books (See VPRS 2983, Microfilm Copy of Index to Action/Cause Books, 1842-1924) VPRS 5327
1842 - 1924 Index to Action/Cause Books (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 5327) VPRS 2983
1852 - 1858 Indexes To Judgements VPRS 5330
Controlled SeriesControlled Series
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
1841 - 1972 Civil Case Files VPRS 267
Previous SeriesPrevious Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
- 1853 Judgement Book VPRS 5331
Subsequent SeriesSubsequent Series
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Transfer Date Series Title Series Number
List/s of records in this seriesList/s of records in this series
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Consignment Number Contents Date Range Public Access No. of Units
P0000 1841 - 1972 Open 238
P0001 1842 - 1850 Closed 2
P0002 1972 - 1989 Part Open 113
P0003 1977 - 1977 Open 1
Indexes and RegistersIndexes and Registers
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Date Range Series Title Series Number
? 1842 - ? 1972 Index to Action/Cause Books (See VPRS 2983, Microfilm Copy of Index to Action/Cause Books, 1842-1924) VPRS 5327
1842 - 1924 Index to Action/Cause Books (Microfilm Copy of VPRS 5327) VPRS 2983
1852 - 1858 Indexes To Judgements VPRS 5330
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