We regularly advise clients on bringing and defending challenges to procurement awards under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the Regulations). We act for both contracting authorities, advising them on how to avoid challenges and defending them if they do arise, and for unsuccessful bidders who wish to challenge award decisions where they believe errors have been made or processes have not been conducted in accordance with the law.
This is an area where taking prompt advice is essential. Unsuccessful tenderers have just ten days within which to issue court proceedings if they want to benefit from the automatic suspension provided for in the Regulations, which prevents the contracting authority from awarding the contract to anyone else. Otherwise, there is a time limit of thirty days within which to issue proceedings. This is in stark contrast to most other types of claim, where claimants usually have up to six years to take action. Although we deal with issuing court proceedings where necessary, we are often able to achieve excellent results for our clients without the need for formal legal action.
Not all public procurements are covered by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015. Some fall below the financial threshold and others involve services or goods which are not covered. However, such public procurements may still be challenged though judicial review proceedings, although in practice this is much less common. As with challenges under the Regulations, strict timescales apply to bringing judicial review proceedings so it is imperative to act quickly. Clarkslegal has the necessary expertise and experience to provide the immediate advice needed to judicially review a procurement decision.
Representing a manufacturer in a claim against the Government challenging a tender award. Our client suspected that there had been manifest errors and manipulation of the scoring in favour of the incumbent. A favourable settlement for our client was secured at mediation.
Advising a medical sector client on a challenge to a tender award where the debrief documents contained evidence of manifest scoring errors and marking irregularities. Following correspondence with the NHS trust, the tender was re-run.
Acting for a project management consultancy in a challenge to a tender award where debrief documents showed that our client’s bid had been marked inconsistently across the different lots it had entered. Following correspondence, our client was appointed to the framework in respect of additional lots.
Acting for a non-governmental organisation whose bid was excluded from a mini-tender under a framework agreement as it was alleged by the authority that there was a conflict of interest. Our client’s bid was successfully reinstated following our input.