Rule 9 of the Construction Industry Arbitration Rules published by the American Arbitration Association (AAA) empowers the arbitrator to decide issues regarding the “existence, scope, or validity of the arbitration agreement” and “the existence or validity of a contract of which an arbitration clause forms a part.” This is referred to as a delegation clause. Delegation provisions can be found in various standard rules provided by the AAA and other arbitration administration organizations.
Construction companies with union employees often must make contributions to a defined benefit pension plan sponsored by the union. These plans are called “multiemployer” pension plans.
As a general rule, multiemployer plans are not well-funded. In 2015, for example, a federal study showed that 98.3 percent of multiemployer plans were underfunded. Collectively, that underfunding surpassed $560 billion. And nearly 40 percent of multiemployer plans are in the construction industry.
Most construction professionals regularly file or dispute mechanic’s liens and feel fairly comfortable dealing with them. However, this experience is often concerning a single building constructed under a single contract. Professionals don’t regularly deal with contracts covering multiple buildings. Therefore, professionals often try to follow the same rules they use to file a single lien on multiple buildings constructed under one contract. Unfortunately, by following the same rules, they often inadvertently give up their lien rights on at least one building.
The United States’ recent imposition of a 25 percent tariff on imported steel has been problematic for contractors and subcontractors alike. The increased cost of steel means increased costs on projects, and in many occasions, on projects for which parties have already entered into contracts. In fact, benchmark U.S. steel prices have risen almost 40 percent since the beginning of the year, according to an Engineering News-Record report. In these situations, can a contractor or subcontractor find relief from additional costs in the force majeure clause of their contract? While Missouri courts have not addressed the relationship between increases caused by tariffs and force majeure clauses, extra-jurisdictional courts have offered some guidance on how tariffs could be treated under such a clause.
The author has practiced construction law for nearly 40 years and continues to be amazed or disappointed, as the case may be, by the frequency of one type of problem: Non-compliance with what are usually simple contract terms for giving notice of a claim for additional compensation, damages or time.
Subcontractors and suppliers performing work in Illinois do not have the right to file a mechanic’s lien on publicly owned property. Despite this, the “lien against public funds” provides a useful tool for subcontractors that have performed work on public projects in Illinois and have not been paid.
Businesses with a large number of union employees can often feel trapped in union-sponsored pension plans. This is because “withdrawal liability” — i.e., the employer’s share of an underfunded multiemployer pension plan’s liabilities — can be huge, easily in the tens of millions of dollars. However, as explained below, there is an exemption that employers in the building and construction industry can rely on to avoid withdrawal liability.
The potential ramifications of performing construction without being properly licensed can be severe. Fines and penalties are only the tip of the iceberg. For example, in several states, a contractor that is not properly licensed is precluded from filing a mechanic’s lien. In other states, an unlicensed contractor is precluded from bringing a lawsuit to recover amounts due and owing for its work. California imposes an even harsher punishment — unlicensed contractors may be required to disgorge monies paid for work performed without a license. Finally, several states impose criminal penalties for failure to comply with licensing statutes.
If you are a contractor, subcontractor or other entity offering construction goods and services, you probably know that the ability to place a lien on property for the unpaid value of labor and materials provided is a great piece of leverage. Conversely, if you are a property owner, you have likely had to take steps to avoid the title of your property becoming clouded by liens. This is typically required by most loan agreements.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) codified regulations governing the operation of unmanned small aircrafts or drones. The regulations, which took effect August 29, 2016, are 23 pages long as published on the federal register online, and the FAA commentary is even longer. Highlights are as follows: