Q. We are running a procurement which was first advertised in the Official Journal of the European Union on 21 December 2009. It is now Tuesday 23 March 2010. We have now evaluated the bids and are ready to send out award letters by email today. When can we sign the contract?

A. As the procurement was first advertised on or after 20 December 2009, the new Regulation 32A introduced by the Remedies Directive will apply. Therefore the award letters must be sent to all those bidders who have not as yet been excluded from the process (with reasons given). As the letters will be sent by email, the standstill period will end on midnight at the end of the tenth day after the date the letters are sent. Initially, then, it looks as if the standstill will end at midnight at the end of Friday 2 April. However, the rules state that the standstill period must end on a working day (and Friday 2 April is Good Friday). The next available working day is Tuesday 6 April and so the mandatory standstill period ends at midnight at the end of Tuesday 6 April. The contract can therefore be signed from 12.01am at the start of Wednesday 7 April.

Given that failure to run the standstill period correctly now potentially lays a contracting authority open to an ineffectiveness claim, it is essential that the standstill period is calculated correctly. It is often tricky to do this, which is why we have now included on our Procurement Portal a handy "standstill calculator", which works out the dates for you!