As any reader of this construction law blog knows, mechanic’s liens make up much of the discussion here at Construction Law Musings. A recent case out of Fairfax County, Virginia examined the question of whether contractual privity between the general contractor and owner of the property at issue is necessary. As a reminder, in most situations, for a contract claim to be made, the claimant has to have a direct contract (privity) with the entity it sues. Further, for a subcontractor to have a valid mechanic’s lien it would have to have privity with the general contractor or with the Owner.
The Fairfax case, The Barber of Seville, Inc. v. Bironco, Inc., examined the question of whether contractual privity is necessary between the general contractor and the Owner. In Bironco, the claimant, Bironco, performed certain improvements for a barbershop pursuant to a contract executed by the two owners of the Plaintiff. We wouldn’t have the case here at Musings if Bironco had been paid in full. Bironco then recorded a lien against the leasehold interest of The Barber of Seville, Inc., the entity holding the lease. The Plaintiff filed an action seeking to have the lien declared invalid because Brionco had privity of contract with the individuals that executed the contract, but not directly with the corporate entity.