Whether you are a 'contracting authority' or a ‘utility’ for the purpose of the UK Regulations and EU Directives or a contractor seeking to compete for the award of a contract in the public or regulated utility sectors, you need to understand the procurement rules, their application and the procedures to be observed.
The Regulations are a starting point, as increasing case law (both from the UK and EU) is extending the obligations of contracting authorities operating in the public sector, reminding all of the overarching Treaty duties of transparency and non-discriminatory treatment.
Procurement issues are a significant consideration in all major public sector projects including joint ventures, divestments, capital developments and outsourcings. While compliance is critical, procurement strategies need to allow you appropriate flexibility to achieve your objectives. We can help structure your arrangements, prepare the full suite of procurement documentation, develop evaluation models, contribute to audit trails and support you throughout the procurement process.
We advise on simple, single contract procurements through to frameworks and the establishment of central purchasing bodies under the UK Regulations. We also advise on available exemptions, including awards to group companies (Teckal) and the application of the rules to development agreements.
Contractors are increasingly prepared to challenge procurement decisions. Both those procuring and bidding need to be alive to the danger and opportunities of challenge, the short time limits that apply and the remedies that may be available. Duties of disclosure of information and the interrelationship of the procurement regulations with the Freedom of Information Act all need to be considered as part of the potential for challenge.
Major public projects
Major public sector projects require a blend of technical and sector expertise combined with skills in project management. They can range from infrastructure-related public private partnerships to major outsourcings and managed equipment services. Whatever their nature and sector, complex transactions have a tendency to protracted negotiations or dialogue and cost overruns. Budgets must be monitored and controlled while the process to contract close is properly planned and managed.
Our commercial lawyers bring sector-specific experience of major projects and act for local authorities, education institutions and procurers and providers in the NHS as well as for contractors and service providers. We are committed to managing the process as well as delivering pragmatic advice to get your deal closed on time and to budget. With our support you will understand the process from inception to conclusion, appreciate what is required from you and when, and receive regular updates in order to manage your budgets.
Our Commercial Team can support you in determining whether your proposed arrangements infringe State Aid rules, whether 'market investor principle' considerations apply or the circumstances fit any of the grounds permitted under a block exemption.
Our advice has involved projects in the housing, energy, infrastructure and R&D sectors, involving aid in the form of tax reliefs and direct financial assistance from public bodies.