Court limits purchasers' room to dictate terms

2 October 2002
More legal news

03 October 2002 | David Arminas

Buyers can require environmental conditions in tender contracts only if they relate specifically to the contract, according to a recent ruling by the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.

The court ruled in favour of Helsinki when the city stipulated nitrogen oxide emission levels for new buses in 1997.

A supplier had said the tender was unfair because the levels eliminated all but one supplier whose buses ran on natural gas.

But to avoid misuse by those putting out a tender, the court laid down conditions about using environmental criteria.

The court noted that environmental criteria must be expressly stated in a tender, be measurable, and relate specifically to the contract being tendered.

Sue Arrowsmith, professor of law at the University of Nottingham and director of its public procurement research group, said the ruling closed a loop-hole in European Union procurement directives.

"It means you won't be able to eliminate suppliers on the grounds that they destroy things like rainforests which may have nothing to do with the contract for which they are bidding," she said.


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