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Disappointed Government Contract Bidder Cries Foul

A bitterly disappointed media planning company which failed to win a major central government contract is challenging the outcome of the tendering process – on the basis that the price quoted by the successful bidder could not possibly have been realistic.

A government department had stated that the ‘most economically advantageous’ bid would be successful but that the long-term sustainability of pricing would also be a potentially decisive factor when evaluating the rival tenders.

In challenging the result of the tendering process, the company pointed out that it had a much larger market share than its rival. It argued that the successful bidder’s quoted prices could not sustainably be lower than its own.

For its part, the department positively asserted that the successful tenderer’s prices were realistic and that it had relied upon the recommendations of external specialists whom it had employed to manage the bidding process.

The process had taken place within the confines of a confidentiality ring. However, in a preliminary application, the company asked the High Court to order disclosure of documents concerning the rival’s bid, including full pricing details of the tender.

The department had agreed to disclose certain documents and the application was therefore adjourned to enable the company to consider their contents. However, by operation of the Public Contract Regulations 2006, the award of the contract was suspended pending resolution of the dispute.