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

Is A Deposit Forfeited In Absence Of Proven Damages?

The forfeiture of a deposit is one of the major tools for ensuring that contracts are performed.  But there is a debate about whether a deposit can be forfeited if the party forfeiting it has suffered no damages, or damages less than the amount of the deposit.  Until recently in British Columbia, there were decisions […]

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When Should A Contract Arising From A Tender Be Declared Void For Mistake?

We don’t usually think of the law of mistake as having any relevance in the 21st century. Mistake seems to be an 18th century problem which couldn’t possibly apply to today’s building contracts, especially those arising out of the modern law of tender. But the recent decision in Asco Construction Ltd. v. Epoxy Solutions Inc. […]

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Can A Payment Bond Impose Double Payments On A Contractor?

Payment bonds come in various shapes and sizes and it is important to read them carefully before concluding what they bond. They may not just bond the payment obligation of the party obtaining the bond. They may also bond the payment obligations of all persons on the project.  If they do the latter, then the […]

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Does The CCDC Dispute Resolution Clause Require Arbitration?

Most building contracts contain dispute resolution clauses which refer to arbitration.  A dispute resolution clause can be mandatory – it can require arbitration – or it can be permissive – it can permit arbitration if all parties agree to arbitration when the dispute arises. One would think that the most important thing to make clear […]

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Does A Construction Lien Bond Satisfy A Trust Fund Claim?

There are several different remedies provided in construction and builders lien legislation that do not necessarily fit together well. Two remedies available to a subcontractor are the lien claim against the land and the trust fund claim against funds received or receivable by a contractor. In the case of a lien claim, the payment of […]

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Does A “Pay When Paid” Clause Prevail Over The Construction Lien Act?

A pay when paid clause is one of the more contentious contractual provisions in the construction industry. That clause typically says that the subcontractor is not entitled to be paid until the contractor receives payment from the owner. Because of its perceived unfairness, the clause has been outlawed, or its effect has been substantially limited, […]

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When Is A Commercial Arbitration Decision Unreasonable?

Canadian courts will generally over-rule a decision of a domestic arbitral tribunal only if the decision is “unreasonable.”  What does this word mean? Is the standard of “unreasonableness” different in a commercial arbitration than, say, in a labour or employment arbitration?  If the arbitral award is found to fall within the bounds of reasonableness by […]

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May An Order Dismissing A Stay Motion Be Appealed?

In Canada, there has been a controversy about appeals from stay motion decisions in the context of arbitration clauses.  The issue is whether a decision of a motion judge denying the stay of an action, when the moving party relies on an arbitration agreement, may be appealed to the Court of Appeal. The controversy arises […]

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What Is The Priority Between Building Mortgages And Construction Liens In Respect Of Holdback Amounts Greater Than The Statutory Holdback?

The priorities between lienholders and mortgagees under the Construction Lien Act are not easy to understand.  They are even more difficult to understand and apply when the owner holds back more than the statutory minimum, and when the liens are discharged by security provided by the owner or mortgagee. Under sub-section 44(1) of the Act, […]

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