Challenges to procurement decisions have become an established feature in the procurement of public contracts.
Our team regularly acts for central and local government, housing associations and, to a lesser extent, economic operators.
We can step into a procurement which is already being handled by the firm to manage and deal with potential areas of challenge including issues raised by a displeased economic operator during the course of the procurement.
We are also often instructed to act in a challenge raised in a project where we are not already acting on a day-to-day basis.
Whatever the circumstances, our experience has shown to us that our early intervention can contain and prevent potential areas of challenge escalating by giving the right strategic and procedural advice.
For example, we can advise on how to handle a mistake in a tender submission or advise on the permitted bounds of a clarification in order to ensure that the best possible decisions are made at the earliest available time.
Challenges can start with a “low key” initial complaint or by proceedings which have sometimes been commenced simply to stop a potential claim from becoming time barred. In either case, the early stages can determine how far such claims will go and we can play an active part in that crucial initial time – a stage which can be of particular importance where the challenger is the losing incumbent. Such assistance can include bringing our knowledge and experience to bear in advising on the merits/issues and recommending corrective/mitigating action where appropriate and possible.
Our early participation can involve dealing with issues in correspondence, ending the contract-making suspension and, after the initial period, continuing to act in any on-going proceedings.
Even when a contract has been entered into, our team can help and have great experience in assisting clients on measures which can mitigate the risk of challenge, such as in cases where an authority wishes to modify a contract during its term and where one of the grounds of ineffectiveness could apply.
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