EU warning over procurement regulations

A Construction and Engineering legal expert is warning that the ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the EU will not mean public bodies in the UK can ignore important rules which govern procurement and tendering processes for large, public projects.

The Public Contract Regulations 2015 were brought in as an update to an older law from 2006, as a requirement of EU law.

The rules mean that in certain situations, the procurement of goods, services and construction works under public sector contracts must be opened up to other markets – so competition is European-wide. They also introduced provisions to help give smaller businesses access to tendering.

Leigh Child, senior associate solicitor in the Construction & Engineering team at North West law firm Napthens, warns that many commercial clients have questioned whether public tendering will be affected by the rules now Britain is set to leave the EU.

However, Leigh warns that if the country remains in the free market, regulations to govern public procurement procedures will still be required.

She explained: “We will not simply stop trading with the rest of Europe, so we will still need a form of regulation that will look very much like the one we already have.

“In addition, if the UK wants to trade through the WTO, its procurement processes must be compliant with rules such as the Agreement on Government Procurement, known as the GPA, which aims to open up government procurement markets among the countries signed up.

“Even if we move away from the EU rules, we will still need to be GPA compliant with the rest of the world, so it doesn’t make sense to change our regulations too much.

“In my opinion, if we wish to remain in the single market, we will still need rules ensuring a fair public sector tendering process.

“The rules can be burdensome but do provide a good competitive process so taxpayers know they are getting the best deals for their funds and companies have recourse to challenge an irregular public procurement.”