The right to offset refers to the common sense ability to reduce or eliminate your payment obligations to a party who owes you money on another contract. With offsets, common law largely tracks common sense. The right of offset is recognized by statute and court decisions in many states as well as under federal law and the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The right to offset can also be established in the contract or subcontract.
But like many things that may seem simple, the right to offset can easily become complex. This article provides an overview of the extent and limits of the right to offset varies from state to state and with federal government contracts about the extent and limits of the right of offset. Construction trust fund statutes add another layer of complications.
These variations may not be obvious or intuitive, but they have a tremendous impact on your right to get paid or your right to withhold payment. Because of the variations, you must always confirm the law applicable to your contract or subcontract, which may not be where the project or you are located.