Thomas G. Heintzman, O.C., Q.C., FCIArb

Construction Law Canada

This website is intended to encourage discussion about recent developments in construction law in Canada.

The commentary in this website will relate to legislation and case law. Each item for discussion will be set out individually. The item will have a short description of the subject matter. Then, a lengthier discussion of the item will follow. The discussion is solely a matter of my personal view and opinion and does not constitute legal advice.

The discussion will generally follow the subjects addressed in my book: Heintzman & Goldsmith on Canadian Building Contracts (5th ed. Carswell).  Reference to that text will be made from time to time as “CBC”, that is Canadian Building Contracts. However, a broader range of subjects will be addressed in this site than those addressed in CBC.

I welcome any views about the commentary in this website and hope that a dialogue will develop about the distinctive aspects of construction law in Canada.

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Subcontractor’s Lien Rights May Be Terminated By The Contractor’s Abandonment

The construction and builder’s line statutes in Canada generally provide that a lien may be lost if an action is not commenced or a lien registered within a certain period of time within the “completion or abandonment” of the work. Usually, the word “abandonment” is applied to the party claiming the lien. But in Tervita […]

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Are There Exclusive and Inclusive Definitions Of “Improvement” In The Lien Statutes?

The Saskatchewan Queen’s Bench recently considered the definition of the word “improvement” in the Builders’ Lien Act of Saskatchewan. In Propak Systems Ltd. v. Grey Owl Engineering Ltd., that court held that the lien statutes of some provinces, like British Columbia, contain “inclusive” definitions and others, like Saskatchewan’s, contain an “exclusive” definition that also requires […]

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Does Construction Insurance Apply To The Suppliers To The Project?

An important issue in construction projects is the identity of the persons covered by the insurance coverage which applies to the project. If one of the parties– say the owner or the contractor – takes out the insurance, does it cover subcontractors or suppliers? Typically the courts have been reluctant to find that the project […]

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Is A Trustee Under Payment Bond Obliged To Advise Potential Beneficiaries Of The Existence Of The Bond?

The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench recently considered an interesting issue relating to labour and material payment bonds. When a contractor requires a subcontractor to obtain such a bond, does the contractor have a duty to tell the subcontractors about the existence of the bond so that they can make a timely claim under it, […]

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Is A Pay When Paid Clause Applicable If The Contractor’s Account To The Owner Is Reduced For Reasons Unconnected With Subcontractor’s Work?

A pay when paid clause is one of the most contentious clauses in a building contract. Indeed, the clause is outlawed in most circumstances in the United Kingdom and some states of the United States. In Canada, there is conflicting case law about the application and interpretation of the clause. In Wallwin Electric Services Inc. […]

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What Damage Due To Faulty Workmanship Is Excluded From A Builders’ Risk Policy?

Last week I reviewed the decision of the Alberta court of Appeal in Ledcor Construction Ltd. v. Northbridge Indemnity Insurance. In that decision, the Alberta Court of Appeal held that damage done by one contractor to the work of another was not recoverable under a Builders’ Risk policy because it fell within the exclusion for […]

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When Is Faulty Workmanship Excluded From A Builders’ Risk Policy?

One of the most difficult issues in construction law is the proper interpretation of an exclusion for faulty workmanship in a Builders’ Risk policy. The amounts in issue can be huge and if the exclusion applies, the absence of insurance can be serious. Take for example the recent Alberta decisions in Ledcor Construction Limited v […]

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Waiver During A Bidding Process Held To Bar Claim Arising From The Tender

The Ontario Superior Court recently dealt with the troubling issue of whether an owner can rely upon a waiver of claims signed by a bidder during a tender to defeat a contractor’s claim arising from the tender. In Todd Brothers Contracting Ltd. v. Algonquin Highlands (Township), the court held that the owner was entitled to […]

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Grounds For Reviewing Arbitration Decisions Are Narrow: B.C. Court of Appeal

A recent decision of the British Columbia Court of Appeal warned that the grounds for reviewing an arbitral award are narrow. In Boxer Capital Corp. v. JEL Investments Ltd., the court noted that arbitral dispute had gone through two separate arbitrations and nine (yes, nine) judicial proceedings already. The Court of Appeal said: “Surely that […]

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