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

General Lien Provision Inapplicable If Main Contract So Provides: Ontario Court Of Appeal

A construction and builders lien claimant may, in some circumstances, file a general lien. The general lien allows the claimant to claim a lien over a number of properties to which it has supplied services or materials. Section 20(2) of the Ontario Construction Lien Act (the Act), unlike the lien statutes in other provinces, enables […]

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Contractor Liable To Flooring Subcontractor For Failure To Provide Proper Sub-Floor

An owner is obliged to provide the contractor with proper access to the site for the performance of the work. That principle of construction law is well known. What is less well appreciated is that the contractor has the same or similar obligation to the subcontractor. And this obligation has an important ingredient to it: […]

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Claims By Equipment Supplier And Consultants Fall Within All Risk Insurance Umbrella

Claims By Equipment Supplier And Consultants Fall Within All Risk Insurance Umbrella The owner and general contractor on a building project typically provide an “insurance umbrella” for the project. That umbrella will usually be referred to in the insurance clause in their building contract. That clause will provide that the owner or contractor will take […]

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Interpretation Saves Contract From Penalty Doctrine

Contract law contains a fundamental rule: penalty clauses are prohibited and liquidated damage clauses are permitted. But in its recent decision in Ottawa Community Housing Corp. V. Foustanellas, the Ontario Court of Appeal held that there is another way to look at this rule. The clause is valid if, properly interpreted, the clause delays, but […]

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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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