When you file a lawsuit in California claiming you are a license contractor be ready to prove it at trial or lose. Business & Professions Code Section 7031(d) requires that you prove you were licensed at all relevate times during the contract you are trying to collect on and in the category of license that you would need to perform the work.
It states: “If licensure or proper licensure is controverted, then proof of licensure pursuant to this section shall be made by production of a verified certificate of licensure from the Contractors’ State License Board which establishes that the individual or entity bringing the action was duly licensed in the proper classification of contractors at all times during the performance of any act or contract covered by the action. Nothing in this subdivision shall require any person or entity controverting licensure or proper licensure to produce a verified license. When licensure or proper licensure is controverted, the burden of proof to establish licensure or proper licensure shall be on the licensee.”
So how does your opponent controvert licensure or proper licensure? All they have to do is file the normal general denial to your complaint and your license becomes an issue. If you and your attorney show up at trial and do not have a “verified certificate of licensure from the CSLB establishing you were licensed in the proper classification of contractors at all times during the performance of any act or contract covered by the action” you will lose by default. Think you can just run back to the office and make a quick call to the CSLB or get a continuance to produce the document? Think again! The Appeals Court in Advantec Group, inc., v. Edwin’s Plumbing Co., Inc., 153 Cal. App.4th 621 (2007)ruled that on the cross-complaint filed by the plumber therein that because the plumber failed to have the certificate from the CSLB the trial court granted a nonsuit (i.e. the plumber lost his cross-complaint) and the Appellate Court confirmed the trial courts ruling. The plumber asked for a continuance of trial to obtain the certificate and the trial court denied the continuance and the Appellate Court ruled that the denial was proper. The appellate court held that by filing a general denial to the cross-complaint the cross-defendant controverted the licensing and the plumber was required to have the verified certificate ready at trial and that failure to do so constituted grounds for the nonsuit.
Don’t get caught off guard with an attorney that does not do construction law on a regular basis. Protect yourself with an experienced construction law attorney.