This is a follow-up of my April column in the Medicine Hat News entitled The Small Claims Process.
In that article, I explained how to have a judgment granted through Small Claims. This doesn’t necessarily end the process, though. Sometimes further steps are required to actually collect your judgment.
An unsuccessful party (debtor) may voluntarily pay the judgment owing to the successful party (creditor). However, if the judgment is not voluntarily paid, there are some options available to a creditor to collect the money.
Judgment can be collected directly from a debtor’s employer. This process is called garnishment. In order to garnish, the creditor must complete a form called a Garnishee Summons which sets out details of the judgment. They must then file it at the Court of Queen’s Bench, and serve it on the debtor’s employer. From that point, the employer will arrange to deduct funds from the debtor’s earnings and forward them to Court which, in turn, will be distributed to the creditor.
Similarly, a judgment can be collected directly from a debtor’s personal bank account by garnishment. For this to occur, the creditor must know in which bank the debtor has an account. With this information a Garnishee Summons can be completed, filed and sent to that bank. The bank itself will arrange for the judgment (or a portion of it, depending on the amount of money held in the debtor’s bank account) to be transferred from the account to the Court. Again, the Court will then distribute these funds to the creditor.
If a debtor owns assets, such as a house or vehicle, that property can be taken from a debtor in lieu of him voluntarily paying the judgment. This will require the assistance of a Civil Enforcement Agency (i.e. a Bailiff). In exchange for a fee and completion of the necessary paperwork, the Civil Enforcement Agency will oversee the seizure and sale of the property and, finally, distribution of sale proceeds to the creditor.
The above options are described in an oversimplified manner, and are subject to applicable Rules and Acts. However, if you face an uncooperative debtor after you are granted judgment, these options may be a starting point for you to consider. As usual, our office would be happy to assist if you have questions or face difficulties pursuing these options in collecting your judgment.
On an unrelated (and more positive) note, I would like to take this opportunity to send warm holiday wishes to the Medicine Hat community on behalf of the partners, associates and staff at Pritchard & Co. Law Firm, LLP. We hope everyone has a safe and joyous holiday season, and wish you all the best in 2016!
Pritchard & Co. Law Firm LLP helps you navigate the turning points of life. Contact one of our lawyers at (403) 527-4411 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org