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

Can A Change To A Construction Contract Be Set Aside For Duress Or Coercion?

Building projects often give rise to heated discussions. When a change order is made in that sort of situation, can one party later say that the change order was made under duress or coercion? The Newfoundland Court of Appeal said Yes in the recent decision in Hickey’s Building Supplies Ltd. v. Sheppard. Background Facts This […]

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Can General Damages Be Awarded For The Breach Of A Building Contract?

Generally speaking, damages for a non-financial loss are not awarded for the breach of a business contract. That is because those sorts of damages are not foreseeable. The breach of a business contract may give rise to anxiety and distress, but that result is usually thought of as part of the vicissitudes and rough and […]

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Quebec Court of Appeal Awards Impact Damages

When a breach of a building contract occurs, the damages can be extensive because the breach can have an impact on the performance of other parts of the contract. For this reason, a unique aspect of construction disputes is the potential award of what are called “impact” costs or damages. In the recent decision of […]

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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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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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Owner Awarded Nominal Damages For Deficient Construction Not Affecting Market Value

What is the appropriate remedy when a contractor fails to build the building in accordance with the specifications but the deficiencies are not proven to affect the market value of the property? Should the answer to that question depend on the sort of building being constructed: a home as opposed to an office building? Should […]

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