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Litigating Outstanding Debts: Winning In Court May Only Be The Beginning

Unpaid sums are common causes for disputes among individuals and businesses. One way to recover debts is by pursuing the case in court. Suppose a creditor, the plaintiff, successfully pursues an action for a sum of money owed to the plaintiff by a debtor, the defendant.

Winning a civil suit is only the beginning of settling a claim against a defendant. The Court issues a Certificate of Judgment, stating that a judge has found for the plaintiff. The plaintiff wins a remedy from the defendant.

The Certificate of Judgment gives a creditor the right to collect the money. It does not automatically pay the creditor the money outright. Our post this week discusses some of the steps involved for creditors to act on a successful judgment.

Collecting the remedy

The Court assumes that the debtor will obey its order and pay the creditor after the creditor contacts the debtor.

Unfortunately, some debtors disregard the court order and refuse to pay their debt.

Creditors employ other methods if a debtor ignores repeated efforts to persuade the debtor to pay the debt. This is called enforcing the judgment.

Enforcing The Judgment - Garnishment

Garnishment allows a creditor to seize a certain percentage of a debtor’s wages. Money is deducted from the debtor’s wages until the debt is repaid in full, though an employer withholds at least $800 in monthly earnings so the debtor can meet his basic needs.

A creditor can also garnish a debtor’s bank account. Confirm that the debtor has sufficient funds in his bank account to pay the full amount of the debt, and then garnish it. The bank pays out the money in the debtor’s bank account to the creditor via the Court. The bank pays out up to one-half of the total monies in the account to the creditor if the debtor has a joint bank account.

The bank or employer sends all garnisheed monies to the Court of Queen’s Bench, where the Court Clerk will pay it to the creditor.

Garnishment Procedure

A creditor must

  • Register the Certificate of Judgment with the Court of Queen’s Bench.
  • Prepare a Writ of Enforcement
  • File the Writ of Enforcement with the Clerk of the Court of Queen’s Bench
  • Register the Writ of Enforcement with the Personal Property Registry
  • Prepare a Garnishee Summons that tells the bank or employer to pay the Court Clerk
  • Serve the Garnishee Summons on the bank or employer

Enforcing a civil judgment through garnishment can be very challenging. Contact an experienced civil litigation lawyer for help if you are uncertain about the intricacies of garnishment.

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Ridout Barron
1827 14th Street SW
Calgary, AB T2T 3T1

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