The Stop Notice is a powerful tool. If a subcontractor or material supplier has properly perfected its lien rights (see Mechanics Liens), serving the owner of a construction project with a Stop Notice imposes a duty on that owner to withhold payments to the general contractor in an amount that would pay any such claim. If there is a construction lender on the project, a bonded stop notice served on the lender requires the lender to withhold funds. The only exception occurs when a payment bond has been previously recorded in the county where the construction project is located. As a practical matter, the Stop Notice usually brings the parties to the negotiating table in a way that phone calls and angry letters won’t. Timing is the key, however, and many a subcontractor has lost an otherwise good case by sitting on his rights.
Construction law is as sophisticated as any body of law on the books. The volume of construction litigation has served to define and refine this area of law unlike other, more recent bodies of law. For virtually any construction dispute imaginable, there are cases on the books reporting an appellate court ruling precisely on point. In addition, the California Civil Code sets forth a host of laws specifically bearing on professionals, tradesman, and consumers in the construction arena. As you might expect, with so much legal history available to the careful lawyer, it is rare that construction disputes go to trial. Most often, construction disputes are resolved through mediation or arbitration.
The best method for resolving construction disputes, and keeping them out of court, is by avoiding them in the first place. Make sure your contracts are both comprehensive, effective, and user-friendly. Allow the construction litigation lawyers at The Law Office of Richard L. Boyer, to review your contracts for potential pitfalls, before you find yourself needing a lawyer to help you through a dispute.
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