Legal challenges are expected following duty provider contract announcements

Abstract Multicolor Network BackgroundThe release of the duty contract provider tender at the end of last week has left many firms across the country disappointed and shell-shocked, although some have done exceedingly well. Franklin Sinclair, partner at Tuckers Solicitors, came under fire when he was accused of ‘bragging’ after he tweeted that Tuckers had been successful in all 18 of the contracts they bid for. Tuckers, along with other successful firms, will now have to have their bid verified before they can enter into the contract with the LAA. The deadline for confirming intention to accept the contract is 11.59pm 20 October with contracts expected to be signed from 26 October.

Unsuccessful firms were contacted through the eTendering message board with an explanation of the score they had been awarded and the organisation’s rank in the procurement area. For those who narrowly missed out on the contracts hopes may persist that the successful firm may decline the offer or fail the verification stage, in which case the next firm in the rankings will be approached.

Others, however, are expected to quickly launch legal challenges. Jon Black told the Law Society Gazette that he had been in contract with several prominent firms who were ‘taking steps in commencing proceedings’. One firm was told that its bid had been unsuccessful because they had ‘failed to discuss their delivery partner arrangements’ despite the fact that there were no delivery partners on the bid.

Another firm received a message through the tendering system stating that they had been successful for a contract they had not in fact bid for. An MOJ spokesman responded that ‘In one case today a notification was posted to a Cheshire message board rather than a Cambridgeshire message board. This was immediately noticed and corrected by moving the message to the board for the correct procurement area. The contract itself was for the correct area.’

Some firms had to wait for 14 hours before notification, while others deduced that they had been unsuccessful when they saw tweets from rival firms before they had been contacted by the LAA. For firms who bid for the Devon and Isle of Wight procurement areas, however, the wait is not yet over. As both areas required a second round of bids, announcements have also been delayed and are expected next week.

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