Georgia Supreme Court Alters Garnishment Procedures

Last year the State Bar of Georgia issued a non-binding advisory opinion, providing that a non-lawyer who files a garnishment answer on behalf of a corporate entity in a court of record (State or Superior Court) engages in the unauthorized practice of law.[1] Based upon the relevant provisions in the Official Code of Georgia, the State Bar concluded that garnishments are actual legal proceedings, thereby triggering the requirement that corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities be represented by a licensed Georgia attorney in courts of record.[2]

 Despite subsequent challenges by Georgia businesses that previously answered garnishments pro se (without the aid of an attorney), the Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the State Bar’s interpretation of garnishment proceedings and affirmed the advisory opinion on September 12, 2011, in Case No. S11U0028.[3] A full-text version of the State Bar’s advisory opinion and the Supreme Court’s opinion can be found here.[4]

 For employers, the decision by the Georgia Supreme Court affects the garnishment process in that now only licensed Georgia attorneys may file a garnishment answer in State or Superior Court on behalf of a corporate entity. Please note that while it is permissible to file a pro se answer to a garnishment pending in Magistrate Court, if a company chooses to proceed without using the services of a licensed attorney, only a full time officer of the company or an employee designated to handle corporate interests in Magistrate Court may answer a garnishment on behalf of the company.

 If you would like further information on how these changes affect your particular garnishment procedures or wish to discuss ways in which our firm can assist you in answering garnishments, please contact firm attorney Ryan Worsley at (770) 822-0900 or rworsley@atclawfirm.com

By: Ryan Worsley


[1] UPL Advisory Opinion No. 2010-1.

[2] Eckles v. Atlanta Tech. Group, 267 Ga. 801, 805 (1997).

[3] In Re: UPL Advisory Opinion No. 2010-1.

[4] http://www.gabar.org/programs/unlicensed_practice_of_law/upl_advisory_opini

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