So, You’re a Garnishee?

If you have been named as a Garnishee, and served with a Notice of Garnishment, this means that a Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor has obtained a court order directing that money of the Garnishee (you) be paid into Court to satisfy the debt owed by a debtor to that Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor.

Garnishments are typically issued against financial institutions that the debtor holds accounts at or with the debtor’s employer.

If the Garnishee is a financial institution, the account(s) at the branch that was served are frozen, and all funds to satisfy the judgment are sent to the Court.  If there are insufficient funds to do so, the financial institution notifies the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor of the payment made.  Should additional funds be deposited into those accounts, those funds are also submitted to the Court.  The account(s) remain frozen until the Garnishment is satisfied or a Termination of Garnishment is served on the financial institution.

If the Garnishee is the debtor’s employer, the employer must deduct 20% of their net wages per pay period and send it to the Court until the amount of the Garnishment is satisfied.  If the debtor stops working for the Garnishee, the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor should be advised of same as soon as possible.

The Garnishee must respond to the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor within 10 days of being served with the Notice of Garnishment.  A Garnishee’s Statement is also served with the Notice and must be returned to the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor within those 10 days to advise them of your intentions.

Failing to comply with a Notice of Garnishment has serious consequences for the Garnishee.  If a Garnishee ignores the Notice of Garnishment, a Garnishee Hearing can be scheduled where the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor asks the Court for judgment against the Garnishee for the amount owed by the debtor. 

The Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor must establish that the Garnishee owes the money to the debtor, and the Garnishee ignored the Notice.  The Garnishee will have to explain to the Court why they failed to respond to the Notice of Garnishment.  The Court must be satisfied with their explanation, failing which, judgment may be ordered against them.

I always send the Notice of Garnishment by Courier.  That way I can establish when exactly the Garnishee receives the Notice, who signed for the package, and then the countdown is on for their response.  The Notice is also served by mail on the Garnishee and debtor.

What if you find yourself named as Garnishee, and you do not owe the debtor as alleged?  You advise the Plaintiff/Judgment Creditor by providing your explanation in the Garnishee’s Statement.

Failing to respond to a Notice of Garnishment can be detrimental to a Garnishee.  No reasonable business would want to have a judgment against them for failing to respond to a Notice of Garnishment, so make sure you respond within 10 days of being served or face some unnecessary consequences.

Murray Brown, Licensed Paralegal