Oral Contracts are enforceable, but . . . .

March 31, 2014 on 10:31 am | In Business Planning, Construction litigation, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-06-26 08:00:43. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Many times, parties enter into informal loan agreements on a simple oral promise to “pay it back.”  Similarly, others will enter into oral agreements to perform residential construction projects, or other types of projects. When things do not go as expected and the promises are of a value worth litigating over (or one of the parties to the promise thinks they are) things can go swiftly downhill.

Williamsburg Virginia Business Lawyers

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The Rule of Caveat Emptor in the Sale of Real Estate vs. a Seller’s Duty to Disclose

March 31, 2014 on 10:31 am | In Construction litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | 2 Comments

Originally posted 2012-03-20 20:00:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Simply stated, caveat emptor means “let the buyer take care,” or even more plainly stated: “Buyer beware.” In real estate matters, buyers are warned that they are to “exercise ordinary care in inspecting the condition of property.” Therefore, buyers are generally urged to obtain a home inspection and take such other care prior to closing on their real estate purchase. Otherwise, the buyers may not have any relief if they find adverse conditions after taking possession.

A case arising out of Charlottesville highlights the obligations of the buyers and the sellers in the purchase of a home. In that case, the seller of the home was also a licensed real estate agent, which added another complication regarding the duty to disclose. This blog posts analyzes that court decision, which offers warnings to buyers and sellers of real estate, as well as to licensed real estate agents.

 

 

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When is a “Contract” not a Contract?

March 31, 2014 on 10:31 am | In Business Planning, Construction litigation, General Interest, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-02-21 09:00:58. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We know that in Virginia, the parties to a contract are bound to the terms of that contract. We also know that Virginia courts look to the terms of that contract to determine each party’s rights and obligations. But what is a “contract?” This blog post looks at a recent Virginia Supreme Court case that gives a little guidance to answer that question.

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Caveat Emptor and a Buyer’s Duty to Investigate Real Estate Purchase

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, General Interest, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-06-21 08:00:20. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We blogged about a Charlottesville Circuit Court case in which the court analyzed the duty to disclose for a seller of residential real estate.  We wrote another post regarding that case discussing an exception to the rule of caveat emptor. Specifically, if the seller attempted to “divert” the purchaser’s attention away from problem areas, a court could find fraud and rescind the contract.

However, in Virginia, if a prospective home purchaser discovers information alerting him to a potential problem, that person is charged with knowledge he would have found had he diligently pursued the inquiry. That rule was highlighted in an unpublished opinion released by the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post reviews the facts of that case and the lessons to learn for real estate sellers and buyers.

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Attorneys’ Fees and Litigation – When fees get awarded to the “Prevailing Party”

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Common Interest Community, Construction litigation, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Mediation, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation, Unit Owners Association | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-10-17 07:45:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

In litigation matters involving common interest communities (otherwise known as homeowners associations (“HOAs”) or condominium owners associations (“condo associations”)), the issue of awarding attorneys’ fees for prevailing parties ultimately arises. Generally, the HOA’s Governing Documents or the condo association’s Condominium Instruments contain such a provision. Otherwise, attorneys’ fees may be recoverable by statute for HOAs and condo associations.

These attorney fee-shifting provisions, either by contract or statute, are contrary to the typical “American Rule” cases in which each side pays their own attorneys’ fees. Because litigation has become so expensive to pursue, whether to award attorneys’ fees, and the amount of any award, has become separate litigation on its own at the conclusion of cases.

In the recent case of Dewberry & Davis, Inc. v. C3NS, Inc., the Virginia Supreme Court was faced with the issue of “whether the circuit court erred in applying an attorneys’ fees provision of a contract.” We had previously blogged about this case, because in the underlying contract between the parties, Dewberry & Davis, an engineering company, had limited its liability for damages. The trial court had determined the limitation of liability clause was void, pointing to a recent change to Virginia Code § 54.1-411that permitted an engineering company to include a limitation of liability clause. Because the contract predated the code change, the court determined that those changes “demonstrate that the General Assembly fully intended to alter the statute’s intent.”

The case continued to trial, and eventually, upon appeal, to the Virginia Supreme Court. This blog post explains that Supreme Court decision relating to the award of attorneys’ fees.

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One important tip for your construction project – Change Orders

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, General Interest, John Tarley, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2010-11-03 07:12:45. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

The DPOR regulations require Class A Contractors to obtain written change orders “which are signed by both the consumer and the licensee.” This requirement sounds pretty reasonable and easy to maintain, yet the reality is that many contractors fail to fully comply with this provision, leading to possible problems down the road.

 

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Do the Virginia Rules of Evidence change settlement negotiations and mediations?

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, HOA litigation, Mediation, Real Estate Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2012-07-18 08:00:46. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Virginia’s new codified Rules of Evidence became effective on July 1, 2012. In an article in Virginia Lawyers Weekly, five of the rules were highlighted. One of those highlighted rules was Rule 2:408, “Compromise and Offers to Compromise.” The terms of this rule differ from the terms of the Federal Rule of Evidence 408, but those differences will not be explored in this post. Instead, this blog post will review Virginia Rule of Evidence 2:408, and its possible implications for settlement discussions and mediation.

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Residential construction and mechanic’s liens; how you can protect your mechanic’s lien rights

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-09-06 13:00:30. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Williamsburg Virginia Business Lawyers

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With the downturn of the housing industry, we have seen a dramatic increase in the number of construction disputes, especially in residential construction. Owners are battling with the contractors, and subcontractors are trying to get paid by somebody. These cases lead inevitably to litigation.

The property owners and the building contractor should have a written contract. However, the subcontractors sometimes find themselves in a difficult situation, unpaid by an insolvent building contractor. It is usually then that we will receive a call from a subcontractor asking about their mechanic’s lien rights. Unfortunately, it may be too late for that subcontractor to preserve their mechanic’s lien rights because they failed to provide proper notice at the outset of the work performance. This blog post provides a brief overview of the notice requirements for subcontractors to preserve mechanic’s lien rights. Continue reading “Residential construction and mechanic’s liens; how you can protect your mechanic’s lien rights”

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How to avoid Real Estate Boundary Line Disputes

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Construction litigation, General Interest, HOA, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation, Real Estate Strategies, State & Federal Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-03-08 09:04:35. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Few real estate topics cause more disputes between owners than those involving activities at a common boundary. We have reviewed boundary line disputes involving trees that straddle property lines and fences that encroach upon boundary lines.

A recent Portsmouth case highlights another issue relating to boundary lines.

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Emails from work computer can waive rights to privileged communications

March 31, 2014 on 10:30 am | In Business Planning, Construction litigation, General Interest, HOA litigation, John Tarley, Real Estate Litigation | No Comments

Originally posted 2011-04-13 17:44:17. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

We have written on the issues that arise when employees use their work computer for personal business. In that blog article, we referred to a California case in which an appellate court ruled that an employee’s emails to her attorney were not protected by the attorney-client privilege because the company had a written policy that informed employees that computers were not to be used for personal matters, that emails could be monitored to ensure that employees complied with the policy, and that employees should not expect any privacy in the use of their computers.

In local news, former Delegate Phil Hamilton raised a “marital privilege” objection to the use at trial of emails he sent to his wife. Certain communications to and from a spouse can be protected from disclosure. There were complicating factors to this case’s analysis.

 

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