Attachment Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Attachment, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Attachment?

(n) Attachment is the process by which a property, article or right is seized by law and linked to satisfy, compensate or otherwise secure an obligation brought to legal action. Attachment is generally ordered when the defended is expected to flee or dispose the item to avert the liability.

History and Meaning of Attachment

Attachment is a legal term that originated from the common law system. It was first used in the 16th century to refer to the process of seizing a debtor's property to satisfy a debt. In modern times, attachment is more commonly used in civil disputes, such as those related to contract breaches or personal injury claims. The goal of attachment is to ensure that a defendant's assets are available to pay a judgment if they lose the case.

Examples of Attachment

  1. A creditor obtains a court order for attachment of their debtor's bank account to satisfy an outstanding debt.
  2. A person is injured in a car accident and files a lawsuit against the at-fault driver. The court orders an attachment of the driver's property to ensure there are funds available to pay any settlement or judgment awarded.
  3. A company sues a former employee for violating a non-compete agreement. The court orders an attachment on the employee's future earnings to secure potential damages.

Legal Terms Similar to Attachment

  1. Garnishment - a legal process where a court orders a third party to withhold funds owed to a debtor and pay them to the creditor instead.
  2. Lien - a legal right to keep possession of property until a debt is paid.
  3. Seizure - the act of taking possession of property, often by law enforcement in a criminal investigation or forfeiture proceeding.