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     Virginia allows pre-judgment attachment to aid creditors in placing a lien on (essentially freezing) assets of a delinquent customer. Typically, a delinquent or defaulting party can be conducting several actions which make the creditor insecure about the likelihood of enforcing and collecting on a judgment that may take at least 90-120 days to obtain in situations where the customer is clearly in default. The customer can be an individual or a registered entity.

     Among the grounds allowed are that the defaulting customer is moving out of state, moving assets beyond the state of Virginia, selling property and converting to easily concealed cash or funds, selling off property to prevent or hinder later creditors from recovering on potential judgments and going "underground" to prevent service of process. Assets attachable can be real estate, bank accounts, machinery, accounts receivable, vehicles or personalty of value.

     The process requires a greater investment than a normal lawsuit, presents higher hurdles to meet for the court filing and involves hard work as well as some luck. Initially, the creditor must post a surety bond in the amount of the judgment sought or value of any specific property to be attached. Most insurance brokers have no concept of this bond and charge extreme premiums because of their lack of familiarity with the procedure. Our office has links around the state to experienced insurance brokers familiar with the procedure and quoting reasonable rates, sometimes one-third the amount of other brokers.

     Once a bond is secured and executed, our office must go ex parte to a judge of the Circuit Court to file the attachment, obtain the issuance of the attachment order and issue a judicial summons. Virginia judges are typically hesitant to issue such orders without hearing the defendant's view, so they must be convinced that the case is strong, the grounds for attachment solid and time is of the essence.

     When service of the suit and accompanying papers is achieved on all defendants, including any third party holding assets for the debtor, the case proceeds as a Virginia lawsuit. Once judgment is obtained it relates back in time to the date the Sheriff levied on the debtor's property (date process served on the defendant or third party holding assets). This can be particularly helpful in defeating 90 day preference bankruptcy issues. It also can provide a ready asset to pay (through garnishment) the judgment.

     It needs to be emphasized that pre-judgment attachment is NOT to be used in a weak or questionable liability case as damages can flow from wrongful attachment. It should be used solely in a case where the customer is clearly in default and the main issue is the availability of diminishing/disappearing assets to pay any judgment or the defendant concealing itself to avoid creditors and post-judgment remedies.

© 2018 Eugene W. Shannon, PLC

Eugene W. Shannon, PLC

Suite 200
426 East Freemason Street
Norfolk, Virginia 23510

Fax: 757-622-1703


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