30 January 2011 | Angeline Albert
A supplier has won damages in the High Court from
Leeds City Council after challenging
a tendering process conducted by the authority.
A High Court judge awarded social housing
maintenance provider Mears damages
this week, following its failure to be shortlisted for a £400-million 10-year
relation to the social housing repairs contract, Mears claimed the
council was in breach of Public Contracts Regulations 2006. Mr Justice Ramsey found Leeds had breached its
obligation to be transparent by failing to notify tenderers of the weighting
for marking questions in pre-qualification questionnaires.
However, Leeds City Council claimed this was a
technical aspect of the challenge, and pointed out the judge rejected the
majority of the supplier’s claims.
it had not made the council’s shortlist for the contract in July 2010. Last
October, Mears sought an interim order suspending the procurement and an order that the
council re-run it. The tender was suspended by the local
authority pending the court’s decision. However, judge
Ramsey said the public interest in getting the contract awarded quickly was
greater than the damage to the firm and decided against re-tendering the
The council’s preferred bidder, MorrisonFacilities Services, will carry out the contract work.
Francesca Day, head of external affairs at Mears,
said: “The weighting of the sub-criteria for the contract was not transparent.
Our interest isn’t just in the compensation but delivering the best
possible service for tenants. We hope the council’s tendering process will
be improved in the future.”
A spokeswoman for
Leeds City Council said: “While the judge found for Mears on a minor
technical aspect of their challenge, the judge rejected the vast majority of
the other transparency and disclosure claims made by Mears. The one aspect of
the tending process in which the judge found in Mears’ favour has been easily
rectified by Leeds City Council.”
“If Mears had been successful in
delaying the start of the contract by having the procurement rewound and
re-run, the council would have lost approximately £3 million in efficiency
savings over the nine months that it would have taken to re-run the process, so
we are pleased with the outcome.”
The extent of the
damages is yet to be determined.