Statutes of limitation impose a deadline for the assertion of construction claims. The construction contract itself can also stipulate a time limit on claims. Can the statutory limitation period be shortened by contract? It depends.
The Washington Supreme Court grappled with a situation in which a one-year claim limitation period appeared to shorten the statutory six-year period. The contract provision was a single sentence buried in 14 pages of general conditions. The contractor-drafted agreement made no effort to call attention to the provision; however, the project owner had a month to review the draft contract and did not seek legal counsel. The owner later sued the contractor for breach of contract. Was the claim limitation provision enforceable against the owner? The court’s 4-3 split opinion indicates the difficulty of the question.
The second case in this issue involved a public works contractor’s use of minority subcontractors other than those listed in its bid. Was this a fraud that voided the contract and precluded the contractor’s assertion of a delay claim against the project owner?
The third case addressed a federal contracting officer’s refusal to waive a contractual work limitation. Was the refusal to waive subject to review regarding reasonableness or abuse of discretion?