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How do I guard against contractor insolvency in the construction industry?

It is almost impossible to completely guard against the risks associated with contractor insolvency, but there are some steps which can assist in mitigating and managing the risks involved.   To be in the best possible position, it is worth considering the following at the outset of any project:

  • Check the contractor’s financial position – particularly the specific company which will enter into the building contract, as the employer’s rights will be against this company rather than the business as a whole
  • Take legal advice to ensure that the building contract is properly drafted with appropriate provisions to deal with an insolvency event
  • Consider requiring a performance bond and/or parent company guarantee (each serve slightly different purposes)
  • Obtain collateral warranties from the consultants and sub-contractors involved, so that there are contractual rights against other parties if the contractor is no longer able to meet claims
  • Consider requiring retention bonds, advance payment bonds or vesting certificates if necessary
  • Project bank accounts and escrow accounts can also provide some further assurances for the parties involved