Public bodies are under increasing pricing pressure to procure smartly and in a cost effective manner.

In such a highly regulated area (and one which is fraught with pitfalls), taking advice early is the key to success for both contracting authorities and bidders.

Tight timetables and complex regulations mean that access to fast, commercial and practical advice is an essential commodity in the public procurement space. Our deep knowledge of public procurement law and our significant experience and expertise in resolving public procurement disputes will help ensure that you meet your strategic goals.

The Procurement Act 2023

The current public procurement regime is undergoing significant reform. Click below to find out what you need to know.

The Procurement Bill has been making its way through Parliament since May 2022.  It eventually received Royal Assent on 26 October 2023 and is now called the Procurement Act 2023 (the Act).

There will be a 6-month preparation period before the Act comes into force in October 2024.  As such, contracting authorities should start planning now to ensure they are ready to take advantage of the new regime, and suppliers should also make sure that they are familiar with the changes being introduced so that they have sufficient time to update their internal processes and policies accordingly.

The Act contains some of the most significant and wide-ranging changes to the UK’s procurement regime in decades and brings about key changes to processes such as:

  • Competitive awards – how they are assessed and awarded.
  • Key performance indicators – how they are defined and monitored.
  • Supplier debarment and exclusion – how suppliers are excluded from participating in tenders.

For further details, please see the links below to our articles on these topics:

The Cabinet Office is providing a comprehensive learning and development programme to support suppliers and contracting authorities operating within the new regime and has produced an initial suite of material, in the form of short guides, to support this.

 These short guides provide a high-level overview of the key features of the Act, timelines for implementation and next steps for contracting authorities and suppliers.

The Cabinet Office material can be accessed here and includes:

  • A short guide to the Act for senior leaders.
  • A short guide to the Act for suppliers.
  • Various short videos and animations for procurement practitioners, including video messages from Gareth Rhys Williams, Government Chief Commercial Officer, for contracting authorities and suppliers.

This material will continue to be supplemented with further learning and development material in the period between now and October 2024 when the Act comes into force.

Aside from the suite of training material mentioned above, the Cabinet Office has also published various other helpful documents.  These include a Planning and Preparation Checklist which identifies actions to be taken in four key areas which the Government hope will help contracting authorities prepare for the reforms, i.e., processes and policies, systems, people and transition.

The Cabinet Office has also produced a Learning and Development Guide which intends to support the transition to the new system and provides further information about the learning and development packages that will be on offer.

To stay up-to-date on developments, you can sign up to the Government’s mailing list, or visit the ‘Transforming Public Procurement’ website for further information and key updates.

The Act applies across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.  Whilst the Scottish Government has chosen not to adopt the new regime, the Act will apply in Scotland to UK government bodies conducting procurement activities in Scotland.

There are various carve outs for Utilities and it’s worth also noting that the Welsh Government has opted to derogate from some elements. Further information can be found on the Public Sector Procurement page of the Welsh Government’s website.

In our view, the earlier that contracting authorities and suppliers alike start getting ready for the Act coming into force, the better!  The guidance and tools provided by the Cabinet Office (and linked above) are a great place to start.

Alternatively, you can read the articles we have published (linked above) which provide an overview of what we consider to be the key changes and some practical tips.

Our services

Whether you are a contracting authority or a bidder, our specialist procurement team can provide you with strategic assistance at every stage of the procurement process.

How we can help:

  • Advising on a party’s rights and obligations under the current public procurement regime (and how this will change when the Procurement Act 2023 comes into force – expected to be in Autumn 2024).
  • Planning procurement processes and assisting in the preparation of regulated procurement compliant documents and draft agreements.
  • Advising on the structure of regulated procurement processes.
  • Assisting bidders with the preparation of compliant bids and inputting into/advising on bid documentation.
  • Advising both contracting authorities and bidders on their rights and obligations during the course of a procurement process, particularly in relation to errors in process, bids, abnormally low tenders, etc.
  • Advising on proposed modifications to contracts let under regulated procurements.
  • Identifying potential grounds for challenge including reviewing evaluation documents and issue-spotting.
  • Advising both contracting authorities and bidders on the merits of a challenge and associated strategy including automatic suspensions, requests for pre-action disclosure, etc.
  • Acting for both contracting authorities and bidders both pre-action and in respect of litigation proceedings.
  • Providing training on all aspects of the current procurement regime and the changes being introduced under the Procurement Act 2023.

Why choose Foot Anstey?

Our team of expert lawyers can operate on both sides of the procurement process, for contracting authorities and for bidding parties. We have experience in challenging where a wrong decision has been made or advising on the bid itself for either side. Where there are flaws in the process we have the experience and expertise to give pragmatic and commercially robust advice.

Being specialists in our field, our deep subject matter experts are also able to appreciate the impact of dealing with things swiftly and early, often with huge commercial implications at stake, especially where a bidder goes to an authority on a regular basis. With that knowledge we will frequently look to use other forms of alternative dispute resolution, keeping your matter out of Court where possible.

Our people

Our specialist lawyers have advised both sides on various issues both during tenders and challenging the tender process. With high profile case experience, our team are able to provide actionable advice instead of a list of options.

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