Among many things to look forward to in 2021, we can add a new lien law to the list. Effective January 1, 2021, Georgia’s Lien Statute will be modified so that lien waivers and releases are limited to “waivers and releases of lien and labor or material bond rights and shall not be deemed to affect any other rights or remedies of the claimant.” O.C.G.A. 44-14-366(a). This would mean that lien waivers only waive lien or bond rights and do not waive contractual rights to collect payment.
The new law is in reaction to a decision from the Georgia Court of Appeals in ALA Constr. Servs., LLC v. Controlled Access, Inc., 351 Ga. App. 841 (2019). In that case, a contractor signed an interim lien waiver at the time it submitted an invoice. The contractor did not receive payment, and it failed to timely record an affidavit of non-payment or a claim of lien. Subsequently, the contractor filed suit for breach of contract. The Georgia Court of Appeals held that the statutory form lien waiver was binding against the parties “for all purposes” and not just the purpose of preserving the right to file a lien. By such sweeping logic, the contractor’s breach of contract claim was denied.