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This Week in Construction Law: December 13 – 17, 2021

In Federal news, the Canadian Construction Association has released the newest version of the CCA 1 Stipulated Price Subcontract. The CCA 1 is a “flow-down” from the CCDC 2 Stipulated Price Contract (the industry standard prime contract between the owner and prime contractor), and those involved in signing, interpreting, and litigating these two contracts are urged to read them in conjunction, especially with respect to new risk allocation issues incorporated into the CCDC 2.

In Federal news, legislation to provide ten days of paid sick leave for all federally-regulated employees has received royal assent. There are approximately 18,500 employers in federally regulated industries, including federal Crown corporations that cumulatively employ 955,000 people, which amounts to 6% of Canada’s total workforce.

In Federal news, the National Floor Covering Association convened an ad hoc committee that has released a new concrete specification, which is intended to achieve “dry, flat, and smooth” concrete slab surfaces and prevent conflicts between contractors and flooring installers. The new specification specifically spells out to contractors who is responsible for any necessary corrective work, which can be extremely expensive and disruptive if required.

In Ontario, there are fresh developments to the news of developers cancelling sales agreements for projects under construction and offering buyers a choice between an increased price or their money back. Buyers are now reporting being affected by such cancellations in Guelph, Richmond Hill, Collingwood, Georgina, and Tillsonburg. Litigation is now underway regarding the legitimacy of developers’ use of cancellation clauses in the sales agreements.

In Ontario, the Home Construction Regulatory Authority has charged a Niagara man and an associated company with provincial offences related to illegal home sales. On 26 occasions, Novel Condominiums completed agreements of purchase and sale without being registered as a vendor under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act. The man in question, a registered salesperson associated with the company, falsely answered a question on an official form by failing to disclose that he had plead guilty to exporting cannabis, careless storage of a firearm, and two counts of possession with the purpose of selling cannabis.

In Alberta, a fourth project under construction in an Edmonton neighbourhood has gone up in flames. Edmonton as a whole has seen “fire-related events” nearly double over the last six months versus the same period last year, and most of the increase is associated with (i) fires that are determined to be either deliberately set or suspicious, and (ii) vacant buildings or fires set outside buildings.

In Nova Scotia, CBC has published a feature detailing the alleged actions of contractor Shane Ross, who is accused of a pattern of predatory behaviour involving fraud and legal coercion. According to the CBC’s reporting, Ross has filed liens in order to extort money from developers, faked an engineer’s stamp on construction documents, flouted a Mareva injunction freezing his assets, and served 60 days in jail for contempt.

In commentary, Stuart Hankinson and Ben Clarke have written about responsibility for safety on a construction site: courts are often required to determine who should be characterized as an “occupier”, and whether the occupier has met their duties to maintain safety and security. They note that a general contractor can be considered an occupier even if they do not have physical possession of the site.

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