The risk that a contractor’s client may refuse to pay the full contract balance is a day-to-day reality for every contractor. That risk – and the stress it causes in the mind of any contractor – is tempered by the knowledge that Washington statutes provide contractors with ready access to the courts to file a lawsuit and be fully compensated for the work performed. But a recent case provides a grim reminder that the same statutes that giveth court access can also taketh away.
Washington’s Contractor Registration Act (“WCRA”) requires every contractor engaging or offering to engage in services in Washington to register with the Department of Labor and Industries (”L&I”). In order to sue to collect compensation for work or to enforce a contract, a contractor must prove that he/she “was a duly registered contractor and held a current and valid certificate of registration at the time he or she contracted for the performance of such work or entered into such contract.” In order to conclude that a contractor has substantially comply with these requirements, a court must find that:
(1) The department has on file the information required by RCW 18.27.030; (2) the contractor has at all times had in force a current bond or other security as required by RCW 18.27.040; and (3) the contractor has at all times had in force current insurance as required by RCW 18.27.050.