Garnishment; effects; how to dissolve, discharge

Garnishment has been defined as a specie of attachment for reaching credits belonging to the judgment debtor and owing to him from a stranger to the litigation.[1] A writ of attachment is substantially a writ of execution except that it emanates at the beginning, instead of at the termination, of a suit. It places the attached properties in custodia legis, obtaining pendente lite a lien until the judgment of the proper tribunal on the plaintiff’s claim is established, when the lien becomes effective as of the date of the levy.[2]By virtue of the writ of garnishment, for example, deposits in a bank may be placed in custodia legis of the court even though the bank is not a party to the case. From that time onwards, such deposits become under the sole control of the court and the bank holds them subject to its orders until such time that the attachment or garnishment is discharged, or the judgment in favor of the judgment credit is satisfied or the credit or deposit is delivered to the proper officer of the court.[3] In the case of BPI v. LEE (G.R. No. 190144, August 01, 2012), Citytrust, and thereafter BPI, which automatically assumed the former’s liabilities and obligations upon the approval of their Articles of Merger, was held by the Supreme Court as obliged to keep the deposit intact and to deliver the same to the proper officer upon order of the court.

However, it must be pointed out that the court is not permitted to dissolve or discharge a preliminary attachment or garnishment except on grounds specifically provided[4] in the Revised Rules of Court, namely,[5] (a) the debtor has posted a counter-bond or has made the requisite cash deposit;[6] (b) the attachment was improperly or irregularly issued[7] as where there is no ground for attachment, or the affidavit and/or bond filed therefor are defective or insufficient; (c) the attachment is excessive, but the discharge shall be limited to the excess;[8] (d) the property attachment is exempt from preliminary attachment;[9] or (e) the judgment is rendered against the attaching creditor.[10]

[1] National Power Corporation v. Philippine Commercial and Industrial Bank, G.R. No. 171176, September 4, 2009, 598 SCRA 326, 336.

[2] Santos v. Aquino, Jr., G.R. Nos. 86181-82, January 13, 1992, 205 SCRA 127, 133-134.

[3] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Sec. 8.

[4] Santos v. Aquino, Jr., supra note 18, at 135.

[5] Florenz Regalado, I Remedial Law Compendium 695-696 (2005).

[6] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Sec. 12.

[7] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Sec. 13.

[8] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Sec. 13.

[9] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Secs. 2, 5.

[10] Rules of Court, Rule 57, Sec. 19.