Major tenders require considerable time, effort and often expense, and when the result is announced, it is always a disappointment if you are unsuccessful. In many cases, public sector organisations will have conducted the procurement process fairly and diligently, and it was simply a case of another submission being a better fit for their needs. However, if you feel aggrieved and that there are irregularities, it is important to act with haste to avoid missing out on the chance to challenge the decision.
In general, when a public sector organisation chooses a winning supplier, they have to advise the losing suppliers and provide them with a period of at least ten calendar days to mount a challenge. During this period, if a supplier is unhappy with the decision, they normally have to assess the severity of any breach of the tender rules, contact the public sector body to raise the issue, wait for a response, evaluate the response and decide whether to press further and issue proceedings. If the supplier decides to start a formal legal claim, the costs to do so can be considerable - potentially £25,000 to £50,000 - and from that point on if they withdraw they are usually liable for the public body's legal costs. Going to a full trial can cost ten times this amount. It is therefore not a step to take lightly.
At Naritas, we maintain up to date knowledge of the procurement regulations and the latest case law, allowing us to give an opinion to you on the strength of any case you may have against the public body. We are happy to review your concerns and for a fixed price provide you with a written report within 48 hours (and often more quickly) on how to proceed. If you decide to proceed, we can draft a letter for you to send to the public body outlining your concerns and the legal basis for these, and review any response from them. It may be the case that a clearly worded complaint of this nature will be sufficient to encourage the authority to reconsider.
Regrettably the cost of legal action is prohibitive for many organisations, and we take a pragmatic view on whether it is in your interests to proceed if you remain unhappy with the response. If you do decide to take matters further, we can liaise with a firm of procurement solicitors to issue proceedings on your behalf and injunct the process.
The first step, however, if you do feel aggrieved at a procurement decision is to get in touch with us and we will guide you in how to proceed.