1. Indigo v Colchester

Readers may be aware that the new Remedies Directive (which came into force in December 2009) introduced a new process for challenging a contract award. Claimants are now able to "automatically suspend" the award of a contract simply by issuing a claim form during the standstill period. Such an automatic suspension means that the contracting authority may not award the contract until the court orders the suspension to be lifted. Mills & Reeve recently acted in what we believe is the first hearing in relation to the automatic suspension process. Indigo Services UK Limited brought a challenge against Colchester Institute Corporation ("Colchester") and suspended the contract award process. We acted for Colchester, which succeeded in lifting the automatic suspension imposed by Regulation 47G of the Public Contracts Regulations 2006. In a further case, Excel Europe Limited v University Hospitals Coventry & Anor (2010) (TCC), the court also decided that the automatic suspension could be lifted. The court found that there was a serious issue to be tried but damages would be an adequate remedy for the claimant.

  1. Mears Limited v Leeds City Council (2011)

The High Court has also considered whether Leeds’ model answers, a document against which Leeds’ evaluation panel scored tenders, should be disclosed. The Court ordered disclosure of relevant documentation which included the model answers because the tender evaluation panel were told in guidance to assess the tenders by reference to them.

The judge acknowledged that the model answers may contain confidential information but that this would not prevent disclosure. A “confidentiality ring” could be applied so that only named solicitors and one director of Mears were allowed to view the documents, in order to decide whether they contained criteria or weightings that should have been disclosed.

The Court also provided a useful six point summary of when the clock should start ticking on the three month period to make a claims under Regulation 47(7) of the Public Contracts Regulations.