For North Carolina general contractors, the big prize in last year’s lien and bond law legislation was protection from double payment exposure on bonded public contracts. Carolinas AGC lobbyist Dave Simpson has said on numerous occasions that he spent the better part of two decades pushing the N.C. General Assembly for double payment protection. In a similar vein, Carolinas AGC member Susie Shaw of Beam Construction added that “this has been an issue I have heard about from my father since I was a young child. It took a long time, but I am glad it is coming to pass in my lifetime.”
This post explains the “double payment” provisions of the new lien/bond laws in-depth, focusing on how prime contractors are exposed to double payment liability on public projects, how the new statute provides protection from that exposure, and the limits of the new legislation. Continue reading
A Grim Tale
Image by Larisa Koshkina / PublicDomainPictures.net
Once upon a time, Best General Contracting, Inc. hired Able Electric Services Co. to perform the $900,000 electrical scope of work on a library project for a local college. Having not worked with Able before, and in light of the value of the electrical scope, Best required Able to obtain subcontractor performance & payment bonds for Best’s benefit, agreeing, of course, to reimburse Able for the $13,500 bond premium. As fate would have it, the library project proved one too many for the not-so-able Able, who ran into cash flow problems, sought bankruptcy protection and abandoned the project. Best immediately fired off a notice of default letter to Superior Surety and hoped that the claims handling process would match previous, positive experiences with subcontractor sureties and culminate in a quick, fairy-tale resolution to this project setback.
To Best’s surprise, it would not. Continue reading
It was an honor and pleasure to speak at last week’s surety and fidelity claims conference in Philadelphia hosted by the American Conference Institute. Mark Oertel, a surety attorney from Los Angeles, and I closed out the conference on Thursday, October 18 with a presentation entitled “The Interplay Between Equitable Subrogation and the General Agreement of Indemnity’s Assignment Clause.”
Our remarks focused on two of the tools sureties use to minimize loss after satisfying claims made under payment and performance bonds. One of those tools, equitable subrogation, allows the surety to step into the shoes and assert the rights of those entities to whom or on whose behalf the surety has performed or made payment. That means after it performs its bond obligations, a surety becomes “subrogated” to the owner’s right to apply contract funds to completion costs, to the bond principal’s right to recover against poor-performing and/or late-performing subcontractors, and to the subs’ and suppliers’ rights to payment. Since the courts have held that the surety’s equitable rights trump the rights of bankruptcy trustees, lenders and taxing authorities, equitable subrogation is undoubtedly the most powerful weapon in the surety’s salvage arsenal.
That’s MOST powerful. Not ALL powerful.
Image from Wikipedia Commons
Monday is upon is, the beginning of what is likely to be the penultimate week of the General Assembly’s 2012 short session.
As my regular readers know, I’ve been tracking two key pieces of construction-related legislation: the lien law revision bill recommended by a legislative study commission, and the bill advanced by the title insurance industry to address the “hidden lien problem.”
This post provides an update on where those two bills stand, and also reports on a third construction-related bill that hit my radar last week.