Civil Enforcements Guide: Seizure
The Collection Process: Seizure
Seizure is a process where you have a registered Civil Enforcement Agency seize items belonging to debtor which can then be sold. The proceeds of these sales are used to pay the debts owned to creditors as per the order of payment.
Remember that other creditors may have prior claims against the property you wish to seize, and may be paid out before you depending on which items are being seized, when other creditors registered their claim, and whether or not their claims were secured or unsecured. It is always a good idea to do a Distribution Seizure Search at the Personal Property Registry prior to moving forward with a seizure to determine what — if any — money you can reasonably expect to share in. To learn more, please read the section on Order of Payment.
You cannot carry out a seizure of property yourself: you must have the courts and a Civil Enforcement Agency act on your behalf. Note that a Civil Enforcement Agency will charge fees for their service, and that you will be required to pay a deposit prior to the seizure being carried out.
There are a number of documents you must fill out in order to have a Civil Enforcement Agency initiate the seizure process.
- Search: You must complete a Distributed Seizure Search from the Personal Property Registry, a search you can have done at any Alberta Registry. This search acts as proof that your Writ of Enforcement has been correctly registered and is currently active.
- Warrant: This form myst be filled out by you as the creditor, or by an appropriate agent entitled to act on your behalf, such as a lawyer. This form gives the Civil Enforcement Agency the authority to seize the debtor's property.
- Notice of Seizure of Personal Property: This form is used to notify the debtor of the seizure, and you will need four copies of this form. Do not sign this document: the Bailiff may use an Addendum form to add additional property.
- Baillee's Undertaking: The Bailiff requires this form to have a responsible person agree to keep the seized property until instructed to take it to the Civil Enforcement Agency.
- Notice of Objection of Seizure of Property: You will need one of these forms per debtor, who can use it to object to the seizure.
You can find all of these forms at the Queen's Printer Bookstores and various other stationary stores and registries.
Sale of Property
Once the property has been seized and released to the Civil Enforcement Agency, you as the creditor must give instructions to the agency to hold a sale of the property. The Civil Enforcement Agency must wait a minimum of 15 days after the Notice of Seizure of Personal Property and the Notice of Objection have been served on the debtor, allowing the debtor time to file a formal objection. If the debtor does not serve a Notice of Objection, then the sale will go forward and the proceeds of the sale shared among the creditors as per the order of payment.
If the debtor does file a Notice of Objection, then you must obtain a court order before any property can be sold. This process can be a lengthy one and will involve a hearing. If so, you will want to consider consulting a lawyer to assist you with this process.
There are certain kinds of property that cannot be seized according to the Civil Enforcement Act. These kinds of property are outlined in the regulations. These exemptions are considered minimum necessities needed to live, and include things like:
- Food required by the debtor and debtor's family for a period of 12 months.
- $4,000 worth of clothing.
- $4,000 worth of household furnishings.
- One vehicle worth up to an appraised value of $5,000.
- An exemption for a personal residence, up to a maximum worth of $40,000.
Note that the numbers outlined above are specific to Alberta: different Provinces do have different regulations and exemptions. Also note that there are additional exemptions for debtors who own farms, and those who make income support payments, have handicap benefits or have widow pensions. Before you begin seizure proceedings it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with the particular exemptions of your debtor's situation to make sure the possible proceeds of the seizure are worth your time and dollar investment.