Construction Liens: Two Thorny Issues-Can non-lienable work be sheltered? Can off-site work be liened?


The Alberta Court of Appeal recently dealt with two thorny issues relating to a consultant's services and construction liens: Can a lien shelter non-lienable work? And can a consultant's services provided to one project be liened on a second project if they were also used on the second project?

Two important conclusions can be drawn from this decision. First, the sections of the Construction and Builders'Lien Acts are highly integrated. Each provision depends on the others. Changing the impact of one section may change the impact of other sections. The Alberta Court of Appeal concluded that expanding lien rights to protect work on other projects, or other non-lienable work, would stretch the Act unfairly and unworkably.

Second, the decision shows that the Construction and Builders' Lien Acts provide uncertain protection for "soft services" such as those provided by consultants. Courts will be careful not to expand the net of lienable consulting services to those which do not directly relate to the improvement to the lands.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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