A Garnishee application is a court application against a bank by a Plaintiff applicant to release monies belonging to their customers

Landmark decision

Enforcement of Judgements – Garnishee Applications against Banks to Satisfy Judgement Debts From Joint Accounts –

The Plaintiffs in Timing Limited, sought to enforce an arbitral award against 2 Defendants, private equity firm Pacific Star Holdings and its owner, Tay Toh Hin.

When Defendants or Judgement Debtors fail to satisfy the judgment, various methods may be explored to force them to satisfy the judgment.

In this case, the Plaintiffs knew of the existence of accounts which one of the Defendants, Tay jointly held with his wife.

Previous rulings here and in other Commonwealth jurisdictions had set such a precedent, pointing to how allowing garnishing of such accounts would be unfair to innocent joint account holders.

The case is landmark in that the plaintiff’s appeal against an earlier decision that the joint accounts cannot be garnished because there was insufficient evidence to show that all the funds in the joint accounts wholly belonged to Mr Tay was overturned.

What must be proved before court may order monies from joint account to be released

  • Admissions by Defendant that monies in joint account belongs to him;
  • The duty or burden of proof is on the Plaintiff Applicant to show monies in garnishee joint account belongs to Defendant ;
  • Applicant must serve the garnishee application; and
  • Applicant must undertake to pay for costs and reasonably foreseeable losses of garnishee bank or the non-Defendant joint account holder.

Significance

Courts have, while slightly widening the ambit to allow successful judgement creditors to enforce judgments have also recognized that banks cannot be expected to carry the burden of tracking or deciphering whose monies are placed in joint accounts and the onus of proof in on the Plaintiff applicant.