Civil Enforcements Guide: Garnishment
The Collection Process: Garnishee
Garnishment is the process where money owned to a debtor is diverted to his or her creditors, most often being funds from the debtor's bank or employer. The person or business owning money to the debtor is called the Garnishee.
As an example, you can serve a Garnishee Summons on the bank where your debtor has an account, and the bank must then pay the money in the account up to the amount of all related and active Writs to the Court, which will then distribute them as per the order of payment. Or you can garnishee the employer of the debtor, and have a portion of his wages diverted to the Court.
In order to initiate the garnishment process, you must first file a Garnishee Summons with the Court of Queen's Bench, and then serve the Garnishee (the person or business that owes money to the debtor).
You can get the required forms needed to issue a Garnishee Summons from the courthouse. You will need five copies of the completed Garnishee Summons to file with the Clerk of the Court of Queen's Bench: the original will be kept by the Clerk's office, one copy is for you to keep for your own personal records, and three copies will be served on the Garnishee.
The Garnishee Summons is addressed to the person or business owing money to the debtor (the Garnishee) and directs that money to be paid into the court rather than to the debtor. If a bank account is being garnisheed, the Garnishee Summons will expire in 60 days from the date it was issued. If a joint bank account is being garnisheed, then the Garnishee Summons will expire the first time money is paid into the court. All other Garnishee Summons are in effect for one year beginning the date it was issued.
A Garnishee Summons can be renewed every year within 60 days of its expiry date, and there is no limit to the number of times a Garnishee Summons can be renewed.
Once you have filed the Garnishee Summons with the Clerk of the Court of Queen's Bench, you must serve three copies of the summons and an administrative fee on the Garnishee. You must be able to prove that the Garnishee received the summons, so DO NOT send the Garnishee Summons by regular Canada Post mail.
There are two main ways to serve a Garnishee Summons:
- In Person. You will need to obtain a signature as proof of delivery. With businesses, you must serve the Garnishee Summons to an officer, Director or person in charge of the business. You can also serve the registered office.
- Registered Mail. You can serve a Garnishee Summons via registered mail to an individual's personal address, business address, or — if serving a business — the registered office or head office of the organization. You must use a registered mail service that requires the recipient to sign for the item, proving they have received it. You will then be provided with a mailing receipt with a copy of the signature and the date the item was delivered.
The Garnishee is then responsible for serving the debtor with one of the three copies of the Garnishee Summons and complete a Certificate of Service on the debtor. After this has been completed, the Garnishee will then forward the money and the Certificate of Service to the Clerk of the Court, and you will be advised of any funds paid on your Garnishee Summons. Only the Clerk of the Court can pay out garnishee funds to creditors.
If the Garnishee is unable to complete the Certificate of Service on the debtor, then you will be notified by the Clerk's office of the reason. At this point you must serve a copy of the Garnishee Summons on the debtor personally or by recorded mail. If for any reason you are unable to serve the debtor, you can then apply for a Court Order that lets you serve the debtor in an alternative way or dispense of the service and have the money paid out of Court.