Public procurement law regulates the purchasing by public sector bodies and certain utility sector bodies of contracts for goods, works or services. The law is designed to open up the EU's public procurement market to competition, to prevent "buy national" policies and to promote the free movement of goods and services.
The current thresholds relevant to educational establishments are: £164,176 (€209,000) for goods and services, £4,104,394 (€5,225,000) for the procurement of works and £589,148 (€750,000) for the procurement of a specific list of services found in Schedule 3 of the Regulations. For contracts that exceed these thresholds, a school / academy / college etc must normally advertise the contract in the EU's Official Journal and follow the procedural rules set down in the Regulations unless they are using an existing compliant framework agreement.
The Further Education Library of Procurement (now managed by the CPC) provides further information regarding the Directives, however, please do utilise the offer of professional advice from the CPC as we are happy to assist our members in any way we can.
The Enforcement regime in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 is derived from the previous Remedies Directives (which have not changed) and were/are mainly concerned with technical obligations imposed on contracting authorities in the way they handle unsuccessful tenderers including the application of a mandatory standstill period.
The principal means of enforcement for a breach of the Regulations and other enforceable EU law such as the principles of the Treaty are:
The High Court's powers include both pre-contractual remedies (i.e. those that can be imposed before the contract is entered into) and post-contractual. Pre-contractual remedies include the power to suspend an incomplete contract award procedure or the setting aside of a decision. The High Court also has powers to award damages as a pre-contractual remedy.
Post contractual remedies (for contracts that have already been awarded) include contractual ineffectiveness (i.e. cancellation, but only for very serious breaches), contract shortening, and civil financial penalties (fines). A properly applied standstill period gives good protection against post-contractual remedies.
CPC Members can manage their potential risk by utilising CPC EU tendered framework agreements wherever possible.
Under the EU Directives in respect of framework agreements, if there is more than one supplier, you are, at times, required to carry out a mini competition.
Current CPC frameworks with end dates - retender work usually begins around 6 months before the framework end date.