Canada: Is Your Lien Up To Code? B.C. Court Decisions Provide Clarity On Application Of Builders Lien Act

The British Columbia Supreme Court (Court) recently released two decisions regarding the application of the Builders Lien Act (Act), providing clarity on limitation periods for filing a lien claim and the circumstances where an excessive lien claim can be discharged for lesser security.


In Green Oak Development Corp (West 7th) Corp. v. Hans Demolition & Excavating Ltd. (Inc. No. 448429) (Green Oak), the Court considered the application of the limitation period for filing a lien claim where the owner claimed that a head contract had been terminated.

In Green Oak, the defendant, Hans Demolition & Excavating Ltd., (Hans) was a subtrade hired to work on a project (Project) owned by the plaintiff Green Oak Development Corp. (West 7th) Corp., (Green Oak). During the course of work on the Project, Green Oak changed the general contractor it had engaged, awarding the remainder of the work on the Project to another general contractor, Kindred Construction. Green Oak advised Hans and other subtrades of this by way of an email in September 2016.

In February 2017, Hans filed a claim of lien. Green Oak argued that as the head contract was terminated in September 2016, the lien limitation period was also triggered at that time and accordingly the lien filed in February 2017 was invalid because it was filed out of time.

Hans argued that the lien was filed within the limitation period because Green Oak did not notify it that the head contract had been terminated, or because the head contract was assigned and not terminated, and therefore, the lien period did not begin to run in September 2016.

A builders' lien must be filed within the time limits set out in section 20 of the Act. Where a certificate of completion has not been issued, the Act requires that a claimant file its lien no later than 45 days after the head contract is completed, abandoned or terminated, or, if there is no head contract, 45 days after the improvement has been completed or abandoned. The Act does not define the word "terminated".


The Court ruled that the lien limitation periods for subcontractors on the Project did not begin to run in September 2016, as Green Oak argued. The Court noted that Green Oak's email in September 2016 could have reasonably caused the subcontractors to understand that the head contract had been assigned as opposed to terminated. Given this uncertainty, the Court concluded that it was not plain and obvious that the lien was filed out of time and dismissed Green Oak's application.


The Green Oak decision demonstrates that an owner ought to give clear notice to subcontractors and other parties that may be affected by the termination of a head contract. If Green Oak had clearly stated that the head contract had been terminated, the Court may have found that the 45-day limitation period for subcontractors to file liens had been triggered.

Subcontractors should also ensure that they have a clear understanding of the status of the head contract. They should consider whether a notice from the owner with respect to the head contract could reasonably be considered a notice of termination such that it triggers the period to file a lien.


In Centura Building Systems v. 601 Main Partnership (Centura), the Court considered the circumstances where an excessive lien claim can be discharged for lesser security.

The defendant owner in Centura, 601 Main Partnership (601) hired the plaintiff subcontractor, Centura Building Systems (Centura) to perform work on the construction of a residential tower in Vancouver (Project) for C$1.367-million plus tax.

In the fall of 2015, disputes arose between Centura and 601 regarding alleged delays in Centura's work and in January 2016, 601 terminated Centura's contract. At the time the contract was terminated, Centura had been paid C$455,879.32.

Centura claimed C$1,136,593 was due and owing to it for materials and services it supplied to the Project at the time its contract was terminated and in March 2016, filed a builders' lien in this amount (Lien).

Builders' liens provide significant protection for contractors, subcontractors and material suppliers to enforce payment for unpaid work and materials. Because builders' liens are such powerful tools, claimants must strictly comply with the provisions of the Act when making a claim — liens cannot include the price of work not yet performed or materials not yet supplied.

The Act also provides mechanisms for owners and contractors to obtain relief from builders' liens by, among other things, allowing for the cancellation or discharge of liens in certain circumstances, such as where: the lien has not been filed in accordance with the requirements of the Act; the total amount of the lien has been paid to the claimant; the lien claim has otherwise been satisfied; or, if the action to enforce the claim of lien has been dismissed or discontinued.


The defendant, 601, sought an order cancelling the Lien, or alternatively, to reduce the Lien on the basis that it was excessive and an abuse of process. The Court did not dismiss the Lien because it noted it had not been presented with any authority suggesting that a lien could be cancelled on the sole basis that it was an abuse of process.

However, the court did order a reduction of security because it found that Centura's Lien included items that could not form part of the lien under the Act. While Centura could seek recovery for these costs at trial, the Court ruled it was inappropriate to secure those claims through a builders' lien. Despite this, the Court noted that there was a real question as to whether Centura had been paid for all the work and materials it supplied to the Project and ultimately ordered that security for the Lien be reduced to C$550,000. The Court found that this reduced amount, together with the holdback that had been maintained by 601, was sufficient security for Centura's claim.


Centura illustrates that courts will seek to balance the interests of owners and lien claimants in applying the Act, particularly when considering applications to cancel or discharge lien claims.

Lien claimants must ensure that they follow the requirements of the Act and limit their liens to the amount of unpaid work performed and materials provided to the improvement. As demonstrated in Centura, courts will consider all of the relevant circumstances when assessing the appropriate amount of security required to discharge a lien to ensure that the lien is not used as an excessively forceful pre-judgment tool.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Events from this Firm
23 Nov 2018, Other, Toronto, Canada

Cybersecurity, including data privacy and security obligations, has become a critical chapter in every company’s risk management playbook.

28 Nov 2018, Speaking Engagement, Toronto, Canada

Arbitration has a number of advantages and some disadvantages for the resolution of domestic and international commercial disputes.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McLennan Ross LLP
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
McLennan Ross LLP
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions