Towards a more level playing field
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) were published on 5 February 2015 and (with the exception of new rules relating to e-communications) will enter… Read more
The Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (the Regulations) were published on 5 February 2015 and (with the exception of new rules relating to e-communications) will enter into force on 26 February 2015 ahead of the deadline set by the EU. The Regulations replace the Public Contracts Regulations 2006 and implement a wide range of new and revised measures introduced by the EU Public Contracts Directive (2014/24) on public procurement. The aim of the Regulations are to simplify the current procedural regime to bring increased flexibility, accessibility and affordability to businesses engaging with the procurement process. In addition to revising and streamlining existing regulations, the Regulations include new rules relating to the conduct of the procurement, contract awards, modification of contracts during the term and joint procurement.
The changes introduced by the Regulations are particularly aimed at increasing opportunities for SMEs and start-ups to access public procurement markets with the introduction of measures including the use of a standardised document to facilitate the production of documentary evidence (a European Single Procurement Document) discretion to break up and parcel out contracts into lots and prompt payment of undisputed invoices. The Regulations also implement an exhaustive list of conditions for participation in the procurement process and limits conditions that can be laid to only those that are appropriate to ensure candidates have the capacities and abilities to perform the contracts rather than excessively high hurdles having the effect of excluding smaller enterprises. By way of example, contracting authorities will not be allowed to require economic operators to have a minimum turnover exceeding twice the estimated contract value save where particular higher risk circumstances may apply.
Notable changes are those made to E-procurement whereby contracting authorities must now offer free, unrestricted and full direct access by electronic means to the documents from the date of publication of the contract notice and further provides for a mandatory switch to fully electronic communication in all procurement procedures with a few exceptions where limitation of technology and specified legitimate reasons may impact authorities’ ability to comply. Such changes will have a significant impact on cost and accessibility to smaller businesses in entering into the tender process. It should be noted, however, that the rules relating to e-communications will in the most part only apply from 18 October 2018, although rules relating to electronic procurement by central purchasing bodies and the availability of the electronic form of the European Single Procurement Document will apply from 18 April 2017.
For more information, please contact the corporate team.