Garnishee Definition and Legal Meaning

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

What is Garnishee?

(n) Garnishee is the person or legal entity who was served with a court order directing him or them to withhold the funds or the payments due to another person or entity until an order or sanction is received from the court.

History and Meaning of Garnishee

The term "garnishee" has its roots in the old French term "garnir", meaning to warn or to fortify. In the legal sense, it is a court-ordered process used to collect a debt owed by a defendant to a plaintiff. The garnishee is the individual or entity who holds property or money that is owed to the defendant and is instructed by the court to hold on to it until the debt is paid off or a settlement between the defendant and plaintiff is reached.

Examples of Garnishee

  1. A creditor may file a garnishment order against a debtor's employer, requiring them to withhold a portion of the employee's wages and pay it directly to the creditor.
  2. A landlord may file a garnishment order against a tenant's bank account, requiring the bank to freeze the account and turn over any funds to the landlord to cover unpaid rent.
  3. A bank may be served with a garnishment order to freeze a customer's account and withhold funds for a creditor seeking to collect a debt.
  4. In FTC v. Publishing Clearing House, the garnishee was a credit card processing company that was ordered to freeze accounts related to a sweepstakes scam.
  5. In Greater Nevada Credit Union v. Fidelity Bank, the garnishee was a bank that was ordered to freeze accounts related to a fraudulent investment scheme.

Legal Terms Similar to Garnishee

  1. Attachment: A court order that allows a creditor to seize a debtor's property or assets to satisfy a debt.
  2. Levy: The legal seizure of property to satisfy a debt or obligation.
  3. Lien: A legal claim or right against property that serves as security for the payment of a debt or obligation.