The Louisiana Private Works Act (“LPWA”) [1] provides helpful security to unpaid contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers. In particular, it can provide persons that have no contract with the owner a direct claim against the owner for payment and provides both those with and without direct contracts with the owner a privilege or lien on the owner’s property, which is often helpful security for enforcing payment rights. But these benefits are only available if the LPWA’s relatively strict provisions are followed. Further, as the Louisiana Court of Appeal, First Circuit recently confirmed, the claim and lien rights provided by the LPWA are only available to properly licensed contractors, and any lien filed by an unlicensed contractor is invalid where a license is required to perform the work.

In Ilgen Construction, LLC v. Raw Materials, LLC, [2] RML attempted to file two liens on property owned by Ilgen where RML had performed clearing and dirt work for which it claimed to have not been paid. The First Circuit looked past arguments that dominated the trial court proceedings concerning notice of contract requirements to hold that the liens were invalid because RML was not a licensed contractor. The Court reasoned that the LPWA’s protections are designed to secure debts arising from contracts, and because contracts with unlicensed contractors are absolute nullities (i.e., completely invalid), an unlicensed contract cannot assert a valid lien under the LPWA.

In addition to the fact that licensing is required by law, this holding provides another reason for contractors to ensure that they are properly licensed with the Louisiana State Licensing Board for Contractors. If you need assistance with or have questions concerning licensing, liens, or any other construction issues, please reach out to our construction team at this link:


[1] La. R.S. 9:4801, et seq.

[2] Ilgen Constr., LLC v. Raw Materials, LLC, 2020-0862 (La. Ct. App. 1st Cir. 4/16/21), 2021 WL 1438726.