Maintenance provider wins damages from Leeds council

28 January 2011

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 deal.

In 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.

Mears learned 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 contract.

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.

 

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