Changes to public procurement regulations

On 1 October 2011, changes to the public procurement regulations came into effect, which affect how organisations manage major procurement projects. In fact, organisations that are not already aware of the changes may be in breach of the regulations for any new procurements they are in the process of undertaking. The amendments significantly impact on the time limits for challenging procurement decisions, as well as changing the rules in relation to the issue of claim forms.

The changes came about because it was considered that UK regulations were incompatible with EU law and aim to bring clarity on time limits, which makes it much clearer to suppliers what is needed, and by when, in order for them to challenge a decision.

Time limit for challenging procurement decisions

The key change to the regulations is that the time limit within which unhappy vendors can lodge proceedings in relation to a procurement decision (i.e. for the breach of EU procurement rules) has changed. Proceedings must be brought by the vendor within 30 days of the date of knowledge of the issue that gives rise to the suspected infringement, although the Court may extend this to a maximum of three months if there is good reason. The new time limits for bringing a claim are set out in the Public Procurement (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2011 and do not affect cases where the date of knowledge occurred before 1 October 2011.

Starting proceedings

Under the amended public procurement regulations, proceedings are commenced when a claim form is issued. The claimant is now required to serve the claim form on the contracting authority within seven days after the date of issue.

In the current economic climate it is particularly challenging to gain and maintain new contracts. Changes to regulations can make it even harder for organisations that are focusing on ensuring on-going business success to ensure that they aren’t breaching legislation. This can further compound the strain on managers and employees, potentially causing stress, stress-related health issues and subsequent sickness absence. For guidance on where to go for more information about your legislative requirements, and for help with other work health issues including dealing with stress in the workplace, call the free Health for Work Adviceline on 0800 0 77 88 44.

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