Judicial review pushes back crime contracts to April

justice2The Ministry of Justice announced on Friday that the introduction of duty provider contracts will be pushed back from January to April 1 next year. Only the previous week, the MOJ continued to insist that despite the threat of legal challenges, the new duty provider contracts would come into force from 01 January 2016.

Following the commencement of proceedings in 69 out of 85 procurement areas this week, the MOJ has decided to implement a contingency plan in case they are prevented from entering into new contracts in the planned timeframe. Existing contract providers will be offered the opportunity to extend their contracts to 11 January 2017.

The recently formed Fair Crime Contracts Alliance issued judicial review proceedings, joining a high proportion of other unsuccessful bidders in challenging the legitimacy of the procurement process. The Alliance, which consists of close to 50 firms is said to ‘embrace anyone affected by this unfair process’.

As the claims were lodged before contracts between the LAA and successful bidders were entered into, the LAA is now subject to an automatic suspension under the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 in each of the 69 procurement areas where challenges have been raised.

The MOJ now has 14 days to file a defence, or at least an acknowledgment of service. If the latter option is taken, they will have a further 14 days in which to file a defence. The MOJ may seek to have the challenges grouped together, in order to simply its defence.

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