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Why Unlicensed Contractors Cannot Sue you in Arizona For Unlicensed Work

The Arizona legislature has specifically authorized the Registrar of Contractors to effect the classification of contractors, and to limit the field and scope of operations of a licensed contractor within any of the branches of the contracting business. A.R.S. § 32-1105(A); Schlicht v. Curtin, 117 Ariz. 30, 570 P.2d 801 (App. 1977). A.R.S. § 32-1153 requires that a contractor have the requisite license at the time the work is bid and performed. A.R.S. § 32-1153. Schlicht, supra. Pursuant to A.R.S. §32-1153:

No contractor as defined in section 32-1101 shall act as agent or commence or maintain any action in any court of the state for collection of compensation for the performance of any act for which a license is required by this chapter without alleging and proving that the contracting party whose contract gives rise to the claim was a duly licensed contractor when the contract sued upon was entered into and when the alleged cause of action arose.

A.R.S. §32-1153. The word duly, according to Black’s Law Dictionary, means “in due or proper form or manner; according to legal requirements." Blacks Law Dictionary, Abridged Sixth Edition, p. 347 (1991), (emphasis added).

The Arizona Court of Appeals has set judicial precedent when contractors sue for work performed that exceeded the scope of their licenses. See Sanders v. Foley,190 Ariz. 182, 945 P.2d 1313 (Ariz.App. 1997), B&P Concrete, Inc. v. Turnbow, 114 Ariz. 408, 561 P.2d 329 (Ariz.App.1977) and Schlicht, supra. In all three cases, the court held that A.R.S. §32-1153 barred the contractors from bringing suit to collect on jobs that were outside the scope of their licenses. The court also rejected all arguments made by the contractors to circumvent the application of A.R.S. §32-1153, stating “there seems little doubt that the legislative intent is to furnish protection to the public by strict licensing requirements even where harsh consequences fall upon those who do contracting work in good faith without an appropriate license." B&P Concrete, supra, 561 P.2d at 331

In sum, if a contractor cannot first prove that he/she had the requisite license to perform the tasks for which he/she seeks to sue upon, then the lawsuit is barred as a matter of law.

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