A joint venture formed for the sole purpose of bidding on a public contract is required to be registered as a contractor under the Public Works Contractor Registration Act (PWCRA), N.J.S.A. 34:11-56.48 to – 56.57, at the time of the bid submission. Appeal decision upheld Township of Pennsauken’s (Township) decision to reject joint venture bid and award the contract to the next lowest responsible bidder.  Court held that the PWCRA applies to a joint venture and requires registration at the time of bid submission to local governments.   The Joint Venture, as a bidder on the Project, would be “subject to the provisions of the statute.  To bid or work on a project covered by the Prevailing Wage Act (PWA), the bidder must be registered under the [PWCRA].” In this case, Joint Venture “ha[d] never been registered with the [DOL] to perform such work[,] and because it ha[d] already bid on this project[,] it may be held in violation of the law.”  Comment:  This decision shows that licenses of individual members will not suffice when the law requires the contracting party itself to be licensed.  Ernest Bock & Sons JV v. Township of Pennsauken, 477 NJ Super. 254 (NJ 2024).

The two JV partners signed a joint venture agreement, forming Joint Venture for the specific purpose of bidding on and performing construction of the Project. Its bid included a statement of corporate ownership that identified the entity as a “JV partnership.” The Joint Venture did not, however, submit a PWCRA registration certificate. Instead, it submitted individual PWCRA registration certificates for the two partner entities.

The appellate court stated that it agreed with the trial court’s reasoning that Joint Venture’s status was akin to a partnership.

“… There is sufficient credible evidence to support the Township’s conclusion that Joint Venture’s bid was materially defective and, therefore, non-conforming and nonresponsive. The Township specified in unambiguous terms a registration certificate was required under the PWCRA and business registration law, and the failure to comply with the statutes would be cause for rejection of the bid “as permitted by law.” Joint Venture was not a holder of a registration certificate. Therefore, Joint Venture’s “non-compliance was substantial and thus non-waivable”; and as such, no further inquiry was necessary because the bid was “non-conforming and a non-conforming bid [was] no bid at all.”


About the author: Article written by J. Kent Holland, Jr., a construction lawyer located in Tysons Corner, Virginia, with a national practice (formerly with Wickwire Gavin, P.C. and now with ConstructionRisk Counsel, PLLC) representing design professionals, contractors and project owners.  He is founder and president of a consulting firm, ConstructionRisk, LLC, providing consulting services to owners, design professionals, contractors and attorneys on construction projects.  He is publisher of ConstructionRisk Report and may be reached at Kent@ConstructionRisk.com or by calling 703-623-1932.  This article is published in ConstructionRisk Report, Vol. 26, No. 5 (June 2024).

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