In construction projects that are performed either on behalf of a municipality or a state agency, a general contractor and potentially a sub-contractor are typically required to post payment and/or performance bonds with the county or municipality. A general contractor or sub-contractor is required to post a payment and/or performance bond, because this ensures that sub-contractors or suppliers are paid, and enables the Township or state agency to have the work completed should the contractor fail to do so in a timely fashion. As a supplier or sub-contractor on such a municipal or state project, it is important to know your rights with regard to making a claim against a payment bond.
The most important thing that any sub-contractor or supplier must do prior to providing materials or services for a public contract is to provide the proper notice as required by N.J.S.A. 2A.44-145. This strict notice requirement specifies that the sub-contractor or supplier notify the party who posted the payment bond for the project in writing via certified mail of their intent to provide materials or services for the project. This is a prerequisite to being able to make a claim against the bond, or to receive a payment for materials and services with regard to the project if they are not paid by the sub-contractor or general contractor. As such, it is very important that any sub-contractor or supplier provide the appropriate notice to the party that posted the bond prior to performing any work or providing any materials.
If proper notification has been sent and a sub-contractor or supplier did not receive payment for materials or services provided, they may make a claim against the bond posted by the general contractor or the sub-contractor. It is always suggested that a sub-contractor or supplier obtain a copy of the bond posted by the general contractor or sub-contractor before providing materials or services. This is to ensure that any claim against the bond is made in a timely manner and is not forfeited by failing to comply with the terms of the bond, which require that a claim be made within a certain specified period of time.
Assuming that you have complied with the time requirements of the bond, a sub-contractor or supplier would first send a Notice of Demand for Payment to the bonding company with a copy to the contractor who posted the bond. Typically, the bonding company will require the production of any and all documents which justify the payment sought by the claimant that was not tendered by the sub-contractor or general contractor. Upon receipt of this information, the bonding company will make a determination whether payment is due for the materials and services which were provided.
If the bonding company denies payment, then a claim may still be brought against the bond. A law suit may also be filed against the general contractor or sub-contractor who supplied the bond as well. Due to the technical nature of this process, it is important that a party consult with an attorney. Stark & Stark can offer these types of services whenever a sub-contractor or supplier is faced with this scenario.