The topics in the Dial-A-Law series provide only general information on legal issues within the province of Alberta. This service is provided by Calgary Legal Guidance funded in part by the Alberta Law Foundation. The purpose is to make you aware of your legal rights and responsibilities. This is not legal advice. If you require legal advice, you should contact a lawyer.
This topic discusses the procedures to seize property in satisfaction of a debt owed to you.
If you have a judgment in your favor from Small Claims Court, the Court of Queen’s Bench, or Employment Standards and have been unable to collect from the other party, there are legal remedies you can use to collect your money. The remedies must often used to collect are: a Writ of Enforcement, Garnishment and Seizure.
Before you file your Court judgment or Order to pay make several copies. You will need 1 for the Court, 1 to serve on the other party or each of the other parties, and 1 for your own copy. When you file your judgment, the clerk will stamp your copies, register your judgment, and provide you with a new Court action number. Once you have filed your Court judgment or Order to pay, write a Demand Letter to the debtor requesting full payment. Be Courteous and allow a reasonable time to pay. If payment is not received within the allowed time period, then you may file a Writ of Enforcement. Use the same action number on your Writ of Enforcement. The Writ of Enforcement will notify other creditors that you have a claim against that person.
If you decide to enforce the collection by seizing goods, you must follow certain procedures. You cannot seize property yourself, a Civil Enforcement Agency is the only agency authorized to seize goods. The cost will vary between $350 and $500. The Civil Enforcement Agency requires a letter of instruction from you before they can carry out the seizure. The letter must provide information on the location of the goods, the dates and amounts of money owing and any other information the Agency may request. You may ask the Civil Enforcement Agency to seize enough goods to satisfy all outstanding Writs of Enforcement since any proceeds realized from the sale of seized goods may have to be shared with other creditors.
Other documents are also required for the Civil Enforcement Agency.
- A Warrant form;
- A Notice of Seizure of Personal Property form;
- A Notice of Objection to Seizure of Personal Property form and an Information for Debtor form.
The Civil Enforcement Agency will assist in the preparation of these documents.
The debtor must be properly served with the Notice of Seizure. Once served, the debtor cannot remove or sell the goods. If they do, they could be charged under the Criminal Code of Canada or be found in contempt of Court. The goods seized must be listed on the Notice of Seizure. The Notice of Seizure must be served by handing it to an adult at the premises or posting it at a conspicuous place on the premises. Once served, the bailiff may leave the goods on the premises and appoint the debtor as Bailee. This means the Debtor holds the goods and promises not to remove or sell them. If the Debtor does remove the goods or sells them, the Debtor commits an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada or could be liable to punishment for contempt of Court.
The Civil Enforcement bailiff may only go the debtor’s residence or place of business between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. For residential premises or premises of someone other than the debtor, a Court Order to Break and Enter is required if the debtor or other person does not cooperate. Once the Order is in place, the bailiff can employ a locksmith to pick the lock so as to cause no damage.
Some property is exempt from seizure.