After January 1, 2013 Type One Indemnity Outlawed for Commercial Construction
Effective on January 1, 2013, “Type I” indemnity clauses covering an indemnitee’s concurrent active negligence will no longer be enforceable under California law for commercial construction. On October 9, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. signed into law Senate Bill 474 on this indemnity issue. The new law broadens the class of indemnity provisions that are unenforceable under California law.
Under the current law as of the date of this blog post, provisions in construction contracts whereby a lower tiered subcontractor indemnifies an owner or general contractor against liability caused by the indemnitee’s “sole negligence or willful misconduct” are unenforceable. See Cal. Civ. Code § 2782(a). Additionally, provisions in construction contracts on public projects are unenforceable if they impose on the contractor, or relieve the public agency from, liability for the public agency’s own “active negligence.” Cal. Civ. Code § 2782(b). Due to these limitations, owners and general contractors often included “Type I” indemnity provisions in lower tiered agreements, whereby a lower tiered subcontractor would agree to indemnify the owner/contractor, even against liability caused by the owner/contractor’s own “active negligence.”
Under the new law, such “Type I” indemnity provisions will no longer be enforceable. Newly added California Civil Code Section 2782.05 provides that contract clauses that purport to require a subcontractor to “insure or indemnify” a contractor, construction manager or other subcontractor against claims for damages that relate to the active negligence or willful misconduct of the indemnitee, or for defects in design, or against claims that do not arise out of the scope of work of the indemnitor, are unenforceable. Public agencies and private owners are already essentially prohibited from including Type I indemnity provisions in their agreements. See Cal. Civ. Code § 2782(b)(2) and 2782(c)(1) (newly added under SB 474). The new law expands the coverage of that prohibition to include downstream or lower tiered subcontractors and suppliers of goods. Please see the full text of Civil Code Section 2782.05 for full details of the law.
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