Our experienced team of procurement solicitors can offer support and advice on all aspects of procurement and state aid. We assist charities delivering or bidding for publicly funded projects where compliance with EU and domestic law surrounding public procurement and state aid is required.
When a public-sector body bids to enter into a supply contract, a works contract or a services contracts, the award of the contract will be covered by European and procurement law. A key piece of legislation in relation to the procurement of works, services or supply contracts is the public contracts regulations, which sets out how procurement processes should be run by public bodies.
At Anthony Collins Solicitors, we use our extensive sector, procurement law and European law knowledge and experience to work in partnership with our clients to advise and support them with all aspects of procurement processes, including strategic procurement advice in relation to policies and procedures, advice on state aid law and funding arrangements, and bringing and defending procurement challenges.
If procurement challenges arise, our specialist team of procurement solicitors can advise on how to deal with the challenges in an effective and efficient way. Procurement challenges can arise when unsuccessful bidders or the contracting authority make claims of the procurement process being run unfairly.
We work with bidders and contracting authorities to defend and bring claims of unfair procurement processes. As experienced mediators, we can support both parties to reach a workable resolution through mediation; avoiding costly and time-consuming court proceedings. If a bidder or contracting authority feels that the procurement process has been run unfairly we can advise on whether they have a case and assess the risk involved of bringing the challenge.
How we can support you with all aspects of procurement law
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (“PCR 2015”)are relevant to clients who are bidding for public contracts or must themselves run a PCR 2015 compliant procurement process, for example under the terms of a funding agreement.
For clients having to run or bid for a compliant procurement process with limited experience and resources, we know that the processes within PCR 2015 can feel daunting and heavy in bureaucracy. For those with more experience and capacity to undertake procurement exercises in-house, there can be a need to improve consistency to in-house procurement; update staff on changes to the law and seek specialist advice for a procurement of a less-than-usual contract.
We take the time to understand and respond to each client’s differing challenges when providing procurement advice to clients that are either buying or selling works, services or goods. Our specialist team of procurement solicitors work with bidders and contracting authorities to advise and support them on all aspects of procurement and procurement challenges, including:
- Pre-procurement advice on soft market testing and delivering social value
- Advice on the choice of procurement process under PCR 2015, including the use of framework agreements and “buying clubs”
- Drafting and advising on PCR compliant procurement documents and underlying contracts
- Support with bidders’ clarification questions and tender evaluation
- Running full tender processes, including complex processes such as those involving negotiation or dialogue
- Advice on the possibility of contract negotiations and variations after contract award
- Empowering in-house teams through training or drafting procurement policies and toolkits
- Advice on procurement challenges
- Ensuring appropriate procurement policies, procedures and documentation are in place;
- Ensuring procurement processes comply with procurement and European law;
- Supporting clients through issues to ensure a successful procurement process;
- Advising on state-aid law and funding arrangements, including complaints to, and proceedings by, the European Commission;
- Providing procurement training to organisations and trade bodies;
- Advising unsuccessful bidders and contracting authorities on whether they have grounds to bring a procurement challenge and advise them on the associated risks;
- Resolving procurement challenges through mediation; and
- Defending judicial review proceedings and claims under the Public Contracts Law regulation.
How we can support you with state aid
State aid is also an important issue for many clients receiving public funds. We help clients avoid the risk of “claw back” of funds that can arise when there is unlawful State aid either in the flow of public funds to our clients or from our clients through their use of funds down their own supply chains.
We understand that our clients want to be able to focus on effectively delivering their projects, so we offer early support where public funding is given to reduce the risk of unlawful state aid arising. Our range of support services includes:
- Reviewing funding streams to highlight and mitigate state aid risks
- Advising on de Minimis declarations
- Advising on the application of exemptions and notifications to the Charity Commission
- Reviewing and negotiating state aid conditions within funding agreements
- Providing strategic advise on avoiding state aid through competitive selection of suppliers
We know that many of our clients in this sector are looking to maximise the positive impact they can have on society and their communities in the process of developing, regenerating and maintaining our built environment. We are the legal pioneers of securing community benefits through contracts and helped Chris White MP with the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012.
Our leading work supporting public sector clients in delivering social value means we are well-placed to help charities achieve the same in their projects without unduly inflating contract prices. For those clients who are bidding for public contract opportunities, this can mean identifying how they achieve social value in bid responses in order to improve their prospect of winning public sector opportunities. For those buying in works, services and supplies this means working with clients to identify social value objectives before procurement starts and ensuring it is delivered through careful design of the procurement process and documents.
For further information on achieving social value through procurement of contracts see our earlier publications:
“Making the most of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015: A guide for social enterprises”, November 2015, written by our Mark Cook, Beulah Allaway and Martin Brown in conjunction with the Birmingham and Solihull Social Economy Consortium
“Social Value and Public Procurement – A Legal Guide”, January 2014, written by our Mark Cook, Gayle Monk and Beulah Allaway as a legal appendix to Richard Macfarlane’s report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, “Tackling Poverty with Public Procurement”. Note since the release of this guide, the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 have been superseded by the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.
If you would like further information about procurement and state aid and how we can support you, please contact us.