Morrison Law Journal
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The Morrison Law Journal
June 2015
Volume X, Edition 6

A Victory Of Sorts For Contractors: Court Of Appeal Rules That Homeowner Who
Alleged That General Contractor Was Licensed In At Least One Pleading Could Not
Later Contest Contractor’s Licensure Status In Order To Defeat Contractor's Fee Claim

By: Edward F. Morrison, Jr., Esq.
Larry A. Schwartz, Esq.

As contractors are aware in California, or certainly should be aware, subdivision (a) of California Business and Professions Code Section 7031 operates to deny access to the Courts to contractors who are not licensed at all times during performance of work. [MW Erectors v. Niederhauser Ornamental & Metal Works Co., Inc. (2005) 36 Cal.4th 412, 423; Hydrotech Systems, Ltd. v. Oasis Water Park (1991) 52 Cal.3rd 988, 995] Less well known to contractors, but equally important, is Business and Professions Code Section 7031(d) which requires production of a verified Certificate of Licensure when the issue of licensure is controverted. This subsection became extremely important with the ruling in Adventec Group, Inc. v. Edwin's Plumbing Co., Inc. (2007) 153 Cal.App.4th 621 ("Advantec case"), where the Court denied a request for continuance by contractor’s counsel at trial to obtain a Certificate of Licensure from the Contractors’ State License Board and judgment was entered against that contractor for want of licensure (even though the contractor was licensed and simply failed to produce the Certificate of Licensure).

In a victory of sorts for contractors, in Womack v. Lovell (2015) DJDAR 696593 (“Womack case”), the Fourth District Court of Appeal reversed a trial court judgment against a contractor and ruled that, because the homeowner in litigation with the contractor had averred in his Complaint that the defendant (and later cross-complainant) contractor was licensed and given the fact that the homeowner’s counsel had failed to list licensure as a controverted issue pursuant to Orange County Superior Court rules, the contractor in that case was not required to obtain a Certificate of Licensure in order to comply with Business and Professions Code Section 7031(d).

While the Womack case is certainly helpful for contractors, and provides at least one exception to the Adventec case, it highlights the need and importance of any contractor seeking compensation to obtain a Certificate of Licensure well in advance of trial or a stipulation as to licensure. In that regard, it should be noted that, in the Womack case, the contractor, which prevailed at a jury trial,


later had judgment rendered against it at the trial court level because of the want of a Certificate of Licensure. Only on appeal did the contractor prevail.

Therefore, while the Womack case is a victory of sorts for contractors, that case, as much as much as anything else, demonstrates the need for a Certificate of Licensure or stipulation as to licensure in any case where a contractor is seeking compensation.

About the Authors: Edward F. Morrison, Jr. is the founding partner and Larry A. Schwartz is Of Counsel to The Morrison Law Group, a professional corporation. Their biographies can be viewed at

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Disclaimer Note: The legal article presented above is intended to provide general information which may be of interest or use to clients and colleagues of The Morrison Law Group and should not be construed as legal advice on any matter.