Reminder: Pay if Paid Not All Encompassing (but Could it be?)

Dollar bill black and white

Attorney Christopher G. Hill analyzes Precision Contractors Inc. v. Masterbuilt Companies Inc.

December 9, 2019
Christopher G. Hill - Construction Law Musings

On numerous occasions, I have discussed the need to be careful with so called “pay if paid” clauses in construction contracts. While such clauses are enforceable in Virginia (when phrased correctly), there are exceptions and limitations (for instance in the Miller Act context).

One such exception (that I frankly would have thought to be obvious) is that such clauses do not protect a general contractor from paying all subcontractors. Such a clause only protects a general contractor from payment to those subs for whose work the general contractor has not been paid. In other words, if a general contractor has been paid by an owner for a particular subcontractors work, it cannot use the pay if paid clause to deny payment even in the event that other subcontractors were deficient in their work or the owner has failed to pay the general contractor in full.

In Precision Contractors Inc. v. Masterbuilt Companies Inc. (PDF) the Fairfax, VA Circuit Court reiterated this principal stating that nothing in the contract suggests that either party to the lawsuit had any intention to shift the risk of non-payment by the owner or non-performance of other subcontractors to the plaintiff (Precision).

Mr. Hill may be contacted at chrisghill@constructionlawva.com



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