What Should You Know About Attachment of Earnings?

Debt collectors, such as eCollect in conjunction with our associated legal firm E C Legal, are having some success with Attachment of Earnings applications in situations where our client has obtained judgment against the debtor but the debtor is still unwilling or unable to pay.

The attachment of earnings procedure can be a very important in the debt collection process. It involves asking the court to order that the debtor’s employer pay eCollect the amount ordered to be paid (including interest and costs) by making deductions from the wages or salary payments to the debtor.

An Attachment of Earnings Order cannot be made if the debtor receives Centrelink benefits, or if the debtor is self employed.

If the application is granted, the obligation to make the deductions from the debtor’s wages or salary is on the employer. The debt collection agency experience is that employers usually comply with court orders of this type as the employer is liable to pay from its own pocket if it fails to comply with the court orders.

The attachment of earnings process usually follows this course:

  1. issue the application with the court by filing a summons with a supporting affidavit;
  2. issue a subpoena to the employer to attend and produce the wage and salary records of the debtor at the hearing of the attachment of earnings application;
  3. the summons, supporting affidavit and forms for completion by the debtor are served on the debtor and the subpoena is served on the employer;
  4. a solicitor must attend at the court hearing date which is about two months after the issue of the summons;
  5. at the hearing, the court calculates how much of the debtors wage and salary payment should be protected from deduction. The protected earnings amount is determined by legislation. The documents received from the employer or the evidence given by a staff member of the employer will make it clear against whom the order is made. A maximum of 20 per cent of the debtors pay after tax can be taken out under an Attachment of Earnings Order. If the debtor appears in court (most do not) they will be given the opportunity of putting whatever material is relevant before the court. At the conclusion of the hearing, which takes between 15 – 45 minutes, the court will make an order that the employer make deduct payments of a fixed amount from the debtors salary and pay those amounts to the eCollect Trust Account;
  6. serve a copy of the order on the debtor and the employer;
  7. payments should commence to eCollect shortly afterwards;

The court will usually make an order in our client’s favour for legal costs incurred. These costs are added to the amounts already ordered to be paid and are paid by the deductions from the debtors wages and salaries.

Where we know where a debtor is working, the attachment of earnings process is a good method to get paid.

For debt collection services, contact eCollect via email at info@eCollect.com.au or 1300 666 585.

Better still, to get eCollect on the job quickly, use our Debt Terminator software. Enter the information for your debt for fast debt collection.