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Home>Levelset Community>Legal Help>We are a Florida-based contractor doing work as a subcontractor in Washington, DC. The work is being done at the US Embassy in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Does this work qualify for a preliminary lien filing in Washington DC since US Embassy facilities are generally defined as US Territory?

We are a Florida-based contractor doing work as a subcontractor in Washington, DC. The work is being done at the US Embassy in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Does this work qualify for a preliminary lien filing in Washington DC since US Embassy facilities are generally defined as US Territory?

Washington DCPayment DisputesRecovery Options

We are subcontractor to a IDIQ U.S. Government contractor. Our work is in Burkina Faso, West Africa. They are paying us very late and wondering if we should file a Notice of Lien to make sure we will get all payments.

1 reply

Jul 16, 2018
That's an interesting question. Based on the above question, I'm not entirely certain as to whether the work is being performed within Washington DC for the Burkina Faso embassy, or at the US Embassy in Burkina Faso. Regardless - a mechanics lien is likely not an appropriate remedy. As a result, the effectiveness of a Notice of Intent to Lien would also likely be diminished (though, of course, there's relatively low risk in sending one - and it might lead to payment). If work is being performed at the Burkina Faso Embassy in DC, a foreign country's embassy is considered to be on the soil of that country - so DC's mechanics lien laws will not apply. If the contractor has furnished a payment bond, recovery could certainly be made against their bond - and threatening to make a bond claim (via a Notice of Intent to Make Bond Claim which can be found here) can be as effective as a Notice of Intent to Lien. Alternatively, sending a demand letter and/or threatening to file suit can also be effective. If the work is being performed on a US Embassy abroad, the path to recovery might be a little more clear - though a lien claim will still not be an option since the laws of the country where the embassy is located will apply. Typically, contractors on a federal project will have to post payment bonds in favor of subs and suppliers to secure payment to those the subs and suppliers. If that's the case, a Miller Act bond claim would be an appropriate method of recovery - and threatening to file a bond claim (as mentioned above) can be a very effective tool. Plus, demand letters and threats to file suit can be effective as well - regardless of whether bonding is present. Finally, if a claimant is unsure as to whether bonding is present on a US federal project, the claimant may request the bonding information from the public entity who authorized the project and that entity must the provide bonding information for the claimant. You can download a form for requesting a Miller Act bond (for free!) here: Request for Miller Act Bond. As a final note - in the event that no bond is present for the protection of claimants, filing a lawsuit is always an option for recovery, and threatening to do so can compel payment just like threatening to file a lien or bond claim.
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