Public Work Contracts
Government Ministers announced changes to tender documents and Public Works Contracts (“PWCs”). The amendments are to be published on dates in July shown here.
It is intended to make several changes to Suitability Assessment Questionnaires (“SAQs”) for Works, including the inclusion of two new suitability criteria: Environmental Management Measures and Supply Chain Tracking. Amendments will be made to Instructions to Tenderers to reflect the changes to the SAQs and PWCs.
The PWCs will be amended in two key respects, outlined here in Construction.
Out of Time
In Glenman Corporations Ltd v Galway City Council  IEHC 336, the High Court dismissed an application for permission to issue an out of time procurement challenge. We consider the judgment in our briefing here.
Public Procurement Bill
Consultations are underway until 28 July 2023 on draft regulations required to implement the Procurement Bill. Materials on the UK Government consultation are here, and on a Welsh Government consultation, here.
This is the first of a two-part consultation. It addresses technical areas requiring further detail, including in relation to the following areas:
- scope of Light Touch Regime Contracts and Reservable Light Touch Services;
- Exempt Contracts;
- Utility Turnover and Supply Tests;
- intra-UK Procurement;
- definitions of ‘Central Government Authority’ and ‘Works’ for Thresholds;
- disapplication of section 17 of the Local Government Act 1988 in relation to below-threshold contracts to allow a supplier’s location to be taken into account; and
- disapplication in relation to NHS procurement in England, to the extent it will be in the scope of forthcoming NHS healthcare procurement regulations (the Provider Selection Regime Regulations), aimed at delivering a bespoke procurement regime for healthcare services.
Further details are here and a second consultation will be conducted later in the summer.
Finding of Bid-rigging
In the UK, ten suppliers of demolition and asbestos removal services were found to each have been involved in at least one instance of bid rigging in breach of the Competition Act 1998, resulting in fines totalling £59.334 million and disqualification of four directors. The bid rigging took the form of cover bidding (that is, submitting a price not to win, but to give the appearance of competition, having decided with other bidders who would win) and, in some instances, paying compensation to the other entities. The decision is available here.
In a challenge taken by an incumbent service provider in Omagh Forum for Rural Associates v The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs  NIKB 14, the High Court dismissed an application to lift an automatic suspension of the award of the contract. The awarding authority concedes there is a serious issue to be tried and that damages would be an adequate remedy. The Court considers that damages would not be an adequate remedy for the plaintiff and that the balance of convenience tips in favour of the suspension remaining in place. Judgment in the substantive case is awaited.