Questions and Answers on the Builders Lien Act
The enactment in 1997 of the Builders Lien Act was the final stage of a law reform process that started more than 25 years earlier, commencing with a Report by the former British Columbia Law Reform Commission in 1972. This led to a review by a Select Committee of the Provincial Legislature and extensive consultation carried out with the construction industry. Between 1972 and 1997 the Institute’s former Executive Director, and former BCLRC Chair, participated in a variety of initiatives aimed at implementing the recommendations made in that Report. These included the briefing of the Select Committee and participating in the drafting of the legislation itself.
Given an existing institutional stake in this process, BCLI was pleased to respond when the Ministry of Employment and Investment (then responsible for the BLA) suggested that the Institute might prepare some materials that would assist users in coming to grips with the new legislation. The response was the creation of “Questions and Answers on the New Builders Lien Act” published both in a printed format (now out-of-print) and in electronic format for hosting on an internet website. The latter version was heavily coded for easy access and allowed the user to move seamlessly between various parts of the publication and the legislation itself.
Until early 2002 the internet version of “Questions and Answers” was hosted on a website maintained by what was then the Construction Secretariat of the responsible Ministry. The website, the Secretariat, and the Ministry were all subsequently swept up in a provincial Government reorganization. The Construction Secretariat and the website were identified as non-core services of that Ministry and discontinued. In the light of this development, the British Columbia Law Institute assumed responsibility for hosting the website materials ensuring that they remained available to the public. The Builders Lien Act is now the responsibility of the Ministry of Attorney General.
The Institute’s continuing commitment to the improvement of the Builders Lien Act is reflected in its further work on this topic. Three shorter Reports were submitted that addressed specific issues that emerged in the years following its enactment.
- Report on Builders Liens and Arbitration (2002)
- Report on the Builders Lien Act and the Pipeline Problem (2003)
- Report on Builders Liens After the Shimco Case (2004)
Most recently, the Institute undertook a comprehensive review of the Builders Lien Act and issued a Report recommending major changes to the operation of the Act.
The Institute looks forward to the introduction of legislation implementing its recommendations for the improvement of this important Act.
Users are cautioned that the Q&A has not been updated since its creation. They should, therefore, be alive to the possibility that some of its contents should be read in the light of subsequent judicial development and the issues identified in the four Reports referred to above.
That said, the Q&A, speaking at a higher level of generality, has stood the test of time very well and BCLI is pleased to continue hosting it.