Think of public procurement litigation? What images come to mind for you?
Perhaps you see scenes straight out of Bleak House? gothic court rooms, scribes scurrying in the gathering gloom, dusty papers and piles of impenetrable legal tomes?
Not a bit of it. The Technology and Construction Court, which hears almost all public procurement claims, is actually housed within the Rolls Building, a temple of glass and steel in the heart of the City. And, since 25 April 2017, there should be no piles of court papers either, as courts have moved across to a compulsory, paperless system of 'electronic working'. This uses an electronic filing system which allows claimants to issue claims and file documents electronically as well as pay court fees and obtain publically available documents.
At the time the commitment was made to transform to a wholly electronic system, some commentators expressed concern about what could happen should systems fail or be attacked. Of course the events of this week, which saw NHS IT systems incapacitated by the ransomware 'WannaCry', show that those fears were not without foundation.
However, the overall effect of the change should be to improve procedural efficiency for those bringing or defending public procurement claims. If you would like a preliminary discussion about potential procurement litigation, do contact Helen Prandy who leads our procurement disputes practice.