Effective July 1, 2019, subcontractors and suppliers will be statutorily entitled to receive a true and correct copy of the contractor’s payment bond for either a public or private project. House Bill 869 [Link to HB 869] amended Miss. Code Ann. § 31-5-55 to read as follows:
31-5-55. Any person supplying labor or materials for the prosecution of the work shall, upon request to the owner or obligee, or to the contractor or principal, be furnished * * * promptly with a true and correct copy of the contract and bonds within thirty (30) days of the request or the recipient of the request shall thereafter become liable for reasonable attorney's fees and costs in any subsequent action under this section. The written request may be evidenced by any reliable means of delivery.
House Bill 869 also added to Section 85-7-432 to the Mississippi Code to regulate private construction bonds. Specifically, Section 85-7-432(6) gave subcontractors and suppliers the right to obtain a copy of any payment bond furnished on a private project upon written request. The language in this subsection is virtually identical to the amended language in Section 31-5-55 referenced above and requires the furnishing of contract bonds within thirty (30) days or be liable for reasonable attorney’s fees.
These statutory requirements are critical since there are procedural requirements and time limitations on initiating an action against a payment bond depending upon whether or not the subcontractor/supplier has a direct contractual relationship with the contractor.