Debtors’ area


Garnishment (of salary, ...)


What is it about?

A garnishment consists in seizing moneys or other things one of your debtors is owing you (called the garnishee). This instrument is served to the garnishee.

The most common case is of course the garnishment of salary (your employer owes you the amount of your salary), but it can also be an attachment on a bank account or of rents (which are due to you by your tenants) for example.

Your salary cannot be seized entirely (except in the case of child support). In order to know the amount that must be seized and the amount that your employer must pay to you every month, you can use the calculation tool put at your disposal by the French-speaking Union of Judicial officers.

It is not the judicial officer but the employer (or his social secretariat) who makes this calculation. It is therefore him that you should contact first if you think there is a miscalculation.

You should know that the garnishment has a collective purpose. This means that it doesn’t only benefit the creditor who initiated the seizure, but all your creditors.

Your employer (or the garnishee in general) will therefore not have to stop the deductions when the seizing creditor will have received the amount of his claim, but indeed when ALL your creditors will have been repaid and when the judicial officer will have sent a release to him.

The procedure consists of different phases:

  1. Enforceable garnishment: this instrument is served to the garnishee (your employer, your tenant, your bank, …) to inform him of it that he may no longer pay the amounts he owed to you (except for the cases where a part must nevertheless be paid to you, as in the case of the garnishment of salary for example) but that he must henceforth pay these in the hands of the judicial officer who proceeded to garnishment;
  2. Denunciation of a garnishment: this is the instrument through which the judicial officer provides you with a copy of the garnishment which was served to the garnishee in order to inform you of the current procedure and to allow you to possibly lodge an opposition against this garnishment (thereto, it is advisable to consult a lawyer).
  3. Counter-denunciation of the garnishment: not earlier than 17 days after the denunciation of the garnishment, a letter (called “counter-denunciation”) is sent to the garnishee in order to inform him of it that the denunciation has indeed been performed (and that you are indeed aware of the garnishment) and that you did not proceed to opposition.
  4. The garnishee must then therefore start to comply (pay the deductions performed on your salary, pay the amounts available on your bank account, pay the rents, …). If it concerns a periodical income (salary, rent, ...), once the garnishee will have started to pay, in principle, he cannot stop before all your claims are cleared (except if a court decision is rendered through which release is given, except in the case of collective settlement of debts, …).
  5. Distribution(s) : After some months when it concerns a periodical income (salary, rent, …) or after a couple of weeks if it concerns a « one shot » garnishment (bank account, notary, …) and/or when the seized amounts are sufficiently important to justify the expense of a distribution, the judicial officer proceeds thereto. Bear in mind that the garnishment must benefit all your creditors and the distribution procedure is the way how the judicial officer will inventory your creditors and pay those basing on their privileges.
    Depending on the total amount of your debts, it is possible that not all the claims are cleared after the first distribution. If it concerns a periodical income, there will be several successive distributions.
  6. Release : After the distribution, if all the debts are cleared, the judicial officer releases the garnishee.

Why should you react?

If you don’t react, the procedure will be continued as described above.

How to react?

If you don’t agree with the garnishment and after having consulted a lawyer, you can loge an opposition against it before the attachment judge.

You should however know that this is a procedure which is likely to be long and expensive and that the seized moneys will anyway remain blocked as long as this procedure has not been completed.

You shall therefore be careful.

Unfortunately, there are no other solutions at this stage. Agree a repayment plan will not allow to suspend the effects of the garnishment because suspending the garnishment would prejudice all the creditors.

The sole solution consists in clearing all your files.
If you don’t agree with the distribution draft, i.e. if you consider that one or more amounts included in the draft are incorrect, you shall contact the office within the time period available to make an objection, i.e. within 15 days (after that deadline, it is too late and the draft will have become definitive).

You should know that the judicial officer bases in principle on the claim statements he has received and that it is impossible for him to check these.

If applicable, you can transmit your remarks or contestations to the judicial officer in charge of the distribution who will examine them and possibly contact your creditors in order to find an amicable solution to the objection.

If no amicable solution can be found, the file will be forwarded to the attachment judge in order he would settle the dispute.

Contact

S.C.-S.P.R.L. Alain Bordet
Judicial Officers

Quai des Ardennes 118-119,
4031 Angleur - Liège
info@etudebordet.com

Legal notices

Company Number : 0478.382.719
VAT Number : BE 0478382719
Reg. Civ. Comp. Liège : n° 1415

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