Introduction: We are very lucky here at the firm. We have many more cases and clients then we need. Therefore, one of our goals here is to reduce the amount of time we spend in litigation. It is our belief that the longer a case drags on the more unhappy a client gets. One of the few laws that can quickly eliminate a lawsuit is Business and Professions Code 143. Many people consider it an unfair law. Some attorneys hate me after I use it against them However, it has allowed my clients that have owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to win without a trial. Read on and see the magic of Business and Professions Code 143.
Question: Mr. Cheng, I am a contractor hired to build a home for a client. They were a family friend. They even came from the same province in China. I spent many months building their dream home. During the middle of construction they ran out of money and told me that they would pay me later. I trusted them although I was owed $200,000.00. (I know I am stupid). When the house was almost done I asked them for payment because I could no longer pay my workers. By that time I was owed $300,000.00. They told me they were unhappy with my services and refused to pay me. I finally had no choice but to send a letter and say that if they did not start making payments I would have to sue. A few days ago I received a letter from an attorney saying that if I sued he would sue back for abuse of process. He said that I had no grounds for suing because I was not licensed. That makes no sense to me. When I was hired I signed a contract with my friend. I told him that I was not licensed and he accepted the responsibility, in writing. I thought America followed the law. What should I do? Thank you. Charles – Los Angeles
Answer: Dear Charles, I hate to say this but what the attorney is doing is following the law. Under Business and Professions Code 143 it states that if you are working for someone and your job requires a license and you do not have one at time of employment, you cannot then sue for owed wages and work done. This may seem very unfair. And frankly, in situations like yours, it is. However, Business and Professions Code 143 was created to protect society and to discourage unqualified people from working with the public on jobs that require licenses. For instance, would you want any person that claims to be a doctor to operate on you? Obviously not! You would want the doctor to be licensed before he claims to be a surgeon. Without Business and Professions Code 143 many unqualified people would abuse others by claiming to do things they do not know how to do. In your situation and others like you, it is sad. Here, your friend basically tricked you into working for him. However, Business and Professions Code 143 is clear. And indeed, situations like yours were considered. However, the policy of protecting the public is more important than unfairness to individuals that are unlicensed. My recommendation is that you immediately get licensed to prevent this from occurring again.