This past summer, the N.C. General Assembly passed and Governor McCrory signed into law groundbreaking legislation authorizing the use of design-build, design-build bridging and public-private partnerships in the delivery and financing of public construction projects in the state. The legislation is sure to alter North Carolina’s public procurement landscape drastically and influence the complexion of the state’s construction industry, particularly at the design and prime contractor levels.
Last Wednesday, October 23, I attended an excellent panel discussion covering key aspects of House Bill 857 (“HB 857”) sponsored by Carolinas AGC Foundation, AIA North Carolina (@AIA_NC), the Professional Engineers of NC (@ProfEngNC), United Minority Contractors of North Carolina and the American Council of Engineering Companies of North Carolina. Based on that discussion and my own review and analysis of the legislation, here are my top ten observations:
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.
Danielle Rodabaugh of SuretyBonds.com
I’m thrilled to welcome my first guest blogger, Danielle Rodabaugh, to N.C. Construction Law, Policy & News. Danielle is chief editor at SuretyBonds.com, a nationwide surety provider that issues construction bonds to contractors every day. As a part of the company’s educational outreach program, Danielle writes articles to help construction professionals understand the intricacies of surety bonds and the underwriting process. You can keep up with Danielle on Google+.
Whether you’re new to the construction industry or have decades of experience under your belt, you probably have some questions about surety bond acquisition and what goes into the underwriting process. Before we go much further, though, I’d like to review the basics of how surety bonds work and why they’re required.
Surety bonds ensure project completion.
When surety bonds are used on projects, they’re known as “contract bonds” or “construction bonds.” Project owners require them to ensure construction professionals work according to terms laid out in contracts.
There are a number of different contract bond types. Some of the most common ones are license bonds, bid bonds, performance bonds and payment bonds. No matter what kind of surety bond you need, it will function as a legally enforceable contract that binds together three parties:
- The individual contractor or contracting firm that buys the bond is the principal.
- The project owner, which is typically a state agency, that requires the contractor to be bonded is the obligee.
- The insurance company that issues the bond bond is the surety.
If a contractor fails to fulfill the bond’s terms, then the obligee can make a claim on the bond’s sum to gain reparation for any damages or financial losses.