How long does a Contractor have to file its lien on a public project?

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January 11, 2023

Louisiana Public Construction Projects

Louisiana public construction projects can seem extremely difficult, especially if you aren’t prepared and experienced. Generally, unlike a residential or private project, payment terms and overseeing parties, such as architectural oversight can make public projects much more detailed and demanding.

For reference, public projects are generally those projects wherein the property where the project is located is public property. The purpose of the public works act is to protect the public property from being seized and sold, should a contractor not be paid. As opposed to private property that is subject to seizure and sale, if a lien is unpaid. In addition, most, if not all, public projects require the general contractor to carry a bond, in the event the general contractor does not perform or pay its contractors and/or suppliers.

Louisiana law refers to a lien on a public project as a “sworn statement” or “sworn statement of amount due”.

While the Public Works Act does not have any mandated form requirements when filing a sworn statement, Louisiana Revised Statute 38:2242 provides that a claimant has to record its sworn statement with the office of the recorder of mortgages for the parish where the work was performed within forty-five days of the governing authority’s recordation of acceptance of the work. This time period is strictly enforced.

Sworn Statement of Amount Due

The recording of a sworn statement is necessary in order to collect against a bond or surety. Louisiana Revised Statute 38:2247 provides that an action to enforce a sworn statement must be brought against the contractor or surety within either one year from the registry of the acceptance of the work or of notice of default of the contractor.

Sometimes, it is necessary to include the owner in a lawsuit to collect unpaid monies.  If a public entity makes a final payment to the general contractor without deducting the amount in a properly filed sworn statement, the public authority is potentially liable for the amount of the claims. Thus, it is necessary that your lien or sworn statement is properly filed in order to protect your recovery rights.

Should you have any questions or you would like to discuss this issue in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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