Leading law firm Carson McDowell has advised contracting authorities in particular to prepare for the significant changes which are set to move the goal posts on public procurement.
On 5 February 2015, the new Public Contracts Regulations 2015 were published. They contain a number of provisions aimed at encouraging more SME participation in public tenders.
The Regulations expressly permit market consultations prior to procurements, introduce shorter timescales to cut procurement costs, encourage the division of contracts into lots and restrict the maximum turnover threshold which contracting authority can require tenderers to meet. Tenderers can also self-declare in order to demonstrate that they meet the pre-qualification requirements.
Dorit McCann, Associate at Carson McDowell, (pictured) said: “Public procurement has been undergoing a process of reform and the new regulations will mean that all procurements started on or after today will be subject to the new regime. The Regulations contain a number of significant changes and introduce many new concepts, such as life-cycle costing, into procurement law. At the same time, they codify existing case law and retain the same remedies regime.
“The purpose behind the new directives is to clarify and simplify EU public procurement law, to provide more flexibility and to encourage SME participation in public procurement processes. That is particularly relevant in the Northern Ireland context.
“Whether the new Regulations will achieve these aims remains to be seen. However, it is clear that the Regulations will lead to changes in the procurement process and this could increase the number of procurement challenges over the next few years.”
Carson McDowell has prepared a comprehensive guide to the new Regulations which is available for free download from www.carson-mcdowell.com.