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Award of Air Traffic Control Contract Suspended

Airport A company which lost out on a major contract to provide air traffic control services at London’s Gatwick Airport has been granted a temporary injunction to prevent the contract being awarded straight away to the winners of the tendering process.

The High Court found that it was seriously arguable that the owners of the privatised transport hub were engaged in its exploitation ‘on the basis of a special or exclusive right’ and that the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2006 therefore applied to the tendering process.

There were serious issues to be tried in respect of alleged breaches of the rules and, given the scale of the company’s potential losses and the impact on its reputation in the global marketplace, the Court found that damages would not be an adequate remedy if the tendering process turned out to have been flawed.

Maintaining the status quo and preventing the award of the contract for a relatively short period would not seriously prejudice the airport’s operations. The company had also promised to pay damages to the airport’s owners and the successful tenderer if its claim ultimately failed. The interim injunction restrained award of the contract insofar as that was not already suspended by operation of the regulations. The Court directed an urgent hearing of the issues in the case.