Bonds, Payment Bonds – Virginia’s “Little Miller Act”

The state seal of Virginia.

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Here at Musings, we have discussed the topic of mechanic’s liens extensively. However, a mechanic’s lien may not be appropriate depending on the type of project that you work on. For instance, in Virginia (as in most states), a contractor cannot place a mechanic’s lien on a public project.

In Virginia, the legislature has adopted the “Little Miller Act,” modeled after its federal counterpart. The Virginia Act requires that a contractor post both a payment and procurement bond on any public project valued at over $100,000.00. These bonds secure just what you would think that they would, i. e. payment of subcontractors and performance of the work. The payment bond is a substitute for the lien rights that a subcontractor would have on a private project.

Essentially, the Little Miller Act allows a subcontractor or material supplier the right to collect under the bond if it has not been paid within 90 days of the date that the last material or labor was provided to a project. Once the subcontractor or material man shows that the labor or material was in fact provided, the claim is collectible absent some proof by the bonding company or contractor that it has some sort of payment defense (setoff, delay, etc.).

In order to take advantage of this powerful tool, you need only file a claim within a year of the last date of work/material supply if you are in direct contract with the general contractor. If you are not in direct contract with the general contractor (or other party against whose bond you are claiming), you must send a notice to that party within 180 days of the last date of work.

This brief overview should give the basics of Virginia’s Little Miller Act. As always, consult with a knowledgeable attorney when making any sort of construction claim.

Update: Since the publication of this post, the Virginia General Assembly has made some changes to the Little Miller Act, including a reduction of the notice period to 90 days.

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7 Responses to Bonds, Payment Bonds – Virginia’s “Little Miller Act”
  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andrew McRoberts and NPI . NPI said: RT @constructionlaw: Bonds, Payment Bonds – Virginia’s “Little Miller Act” | Construction Law Musings- Richmond, VA […]

  2. […] Law Musings, we are quite fond of the Federal Miller Act and it’s Virginia counterpart, the “Little” Miller Act. Both of these statutes allow a subcontractor or supplier on a government construction project […]

  3. […] Bonds, Payment Bonds – Virginia’s “Little Miller Act” ( […]

  4. […] construction we often value performance and payment bonds when considering how to protect the financial investments put into a project. We do so because […]

  5. jacksonville contractors
    August 12, 2010 | 12:13 PM

    Good information thanks for sharing. Leins are very common in this industry and a line of defence against shady practices.

  6. […] and subcontractors and their attorneys it means that we all need to be very familiar with the legal requirements for payment bond claims. Some of these requirements changed this past July 1. Also, make sure that whatever company […]

  7. […] Bonds, Payment Bonds – Virginia’s “Little Miller Act” Like the primer on liens above, this is a good short overview of Virginia’s Little Miller Act. […]

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About Musings

I am a construction lawyer in Richmond, Virginia, a LEED AP, and have been nominated by my peers to Virginia's Legal Elite in Construction Law on multiple occasions. I provide advice and assistance with mechanic's liens, contract review and consulting, occupational safety issues (VOSH and OSHA), and risk management for construction professionals.

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