Builders Lien Act Reform in Progress


The British Columbia Law Institute (the “BCLI”) is undertaking a major law reform project on the Builders Lien Act (the “Act”) and has begun a comprehensive review and overhaul of the Act with assistance from an expert volunteer Project Committee. This project began in April 2014 and, according to the BCLI, the project will take a minimum of two years to complete. The BCLI hopes to provide the public with one or more consultation papers containing tentative recommendations for comment by the end of 2015. The BCLI intends to generate a final report in mid-2016 for the Ministry of Justice and Attorney General containing concrete, balanced recommendations for reform of the Act and possibly annotated draft legislation.

The BCLI describes the Act as one of the major cornerstones of construction and insolvency law and “a complex piece of legislation”. The Act provides participants in a construction project with powerful lien rights for work done or materials supplied to a building site. The Act also allows building owners and general contractors to limit their exposure to claims by subcontractors and workers who have not been paid by those who hired them.

The BCLI notes that since the introduction of the Act in 1997, the construction and development industries have continued to evolve and important appellate court decisions have interpreted the Act in ways surprising to many veteran practitioners.

It appears that the BCLI intends to address issues such as the dependence of enforcement of a lien on the registration of land at the land title office, the lack of lien remedies for work done in connection with coal mining and oil and gas exploration and drilling, the Act’s treatment of holdback account, and how to improve the practicality and usefulness of lien proceedings to the construction industry.

The writer will be participating in the consultation process and welcomes comments on potential amendments. Comments can be directed to Satinder K. Sidhu by phone (604.643.3119) or email (

More information on this project can be found in the Backgrounder published by the BCLI for this project.