Seizure of a debtor’s bank accounts can be a very attractive option for a creditor when it comes to enforcing a judgment. Indeed, the seizure of bank accounts, like the seizure of debtor’s income, makes it possible to enforce a judgment without having to sell any seized property. Since it is executed directly against the financial institution that holds the debtor’s money and investments, the seizure of bank accounts is a type of seizure in the hands of third persons.
WHAT IS THE PROCEDURE FOR SEIZING BANK ACCOUNTS?
First, the creditor must know the debtor’s financial institution. Thus, if it is appropriate, it is recommended to ask the contracting party, at the beginning of the contractual relationship, which is his financial institution and account number(s). This information could be requested, by means of a form, when opening the account or concluding a contract. In addition, a farsighted creditor who receives certain payments by cheque may also have a policy of keeping a copy of the cheques before they are deposited.
If this information is not available, it can be obtained during a post-judgment examination, which can be done by the creditor’s lawyer. Afterwards, the bailiff will be able to seize the bank accounts according to the instructions of the creditor’s lawyer.
In practice, the bailiff will serve a copy of the notice of execution to an employee of the debtor’s financial institution and will notify a copy to the debtor himself as well as to the creditor.
WHAT SHOULD THE FINANCIAL INSTITUTION DO?
The financial institution is required by law to complete a declaration listing the assets it holds on behalf of the debtor and, if applicable, to withhold a sum of money from its bank accounts. Failing that, it may be held liable for the debt and ordered to pay the sum owing the seizing creditor as if it were the debtor itself.
CAN THE SEIZURE BE CONTESTED?
The debtor must notify his opposition to the parties and the bailiff within 15 days of notification of the minutes of seizure or seizure in the hands of a third person. In short, if the debtor holds money in a bank account, the seizing creditor should consider whether to seize that account in order to execute his judgment. In this way, the creditor will be able to satisfy his claim without having to carry out a sale under judicial authority. Moreover, financial institutions are very familiar with this type of seizure and collaborate diligently with the bailiff following receipt of the notice of execution. However, if the sums held are not sufficient, the creditor will have to consider other types of seizure, such as the seizure of movables or immovables properties.