The Georgia business community may have successfully rallied against the September 12, 2011 Georgia Supreme Court decision requiring any answer of garnishment filed in a Georgia court of record to be signed by a Georgia-licensed attorney. The Georgia House of Representatives has approved a bill that would reverse the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision and allow employers to execute and file garnishment answers without the involvement of an attorney. Last week, and without discussion, the Georgia Senate unanimously passed the bill, and now the bill will be sent to Governor Nathan Deal for his final approval. The new law would be effective upon the Governor’s signature.

If the bill is signed into law, employers will no longer be required to hire a Georgia-licensed attorney to execute their Georgia garnishment answers and will be allowed to use their own human resources, payroll, or other non-attorney staff to process their Georgia garnishments. We will keep you informed as to the status of this bill.

Please be aware, however, that even if the Georgia Supreme Court’s decision is overturned, Georgia employers may still be required to use a Georgia-licensed attorney for any traverse or claim that is filed in a Georgia court of record in response to the garnishment answer. Also note that neither the Georgia Supreme Court’s September 12 decision nor this bill impacts the ability of companies to represent themselves in garnishment proceedings in Georgia magistrate courts because, as courts of inquiry, an attorney is not required in those proceedings.

Although the bill has been passed by the Georgia House and Senate, the bill may not be signed by the Governor right away, if at all. Until the bill becomes law, please continue working with the Georgia-licensed attorney who has been handling your Georgia garnishment matters.

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