Companies Can Answer Their Own Garnishments in Georgia

Ever since the Georgia Supreme Court approved the UPL Advisory Opinion No. 2010-1 on September 11, 2011, the law in Georgia required entities served with a garnishment to hire an attorney to sign and file the Answer to the garnishment otherwise the entity would be deemed to be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law.  All that changed on February 7, 2012.

On February 7, 2012, Georgia’s Governor, Nathan Deal, signed into law HB 683, which among other things, permits an entity to file its own answers to garnishments without being deemed to be engaged in the unlicensed practice of law.  The law revises O.C.G.A. § 18-4-1 et. seq., and 18-4-8(b), (c) contain the pertinent sections related to entities filing answers.  It is important to note that companies will still need an attorney if a traverse or claim is filed in the garnishment proceedings.

There is also an interesting argument whether the legislature can enact a bill declaring what is or what isn’t the unlicensed practice of law given that the Georgia Supreme Court has the exclusive power to regulate the practice of law. Perhaps the issue is not settled?