After a turbulent day in Parliament yesterday, there is still little clarity on what will happen on 29 March or whether that timetable will be extended.
It seems that the government is preparing equally for both the “no deal” and “deal” scenarios: on Thursday last week, the Cabinet Office published a Procurement Policy Note (PPN) giving guidance on what happens in either situation (although with the caveat that the guidance is only draft guidance given the uncertainty about how events will unfold).
If there is a deal...
If there is a deal, then there will no change to the procurement law regime until December 2020 (the end of the transition period). Further guidance will be issued as we approach that point.
If there is no deal...
Even if there is no deal, there will be no major changes to the procurement law regime, because the Public Contracts Regulations 2015, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016 are all part of UK law and this will not change merely because we exit the EU.
However there will be some changes, the most important of which will be the fact that the OJEU will no longer be used for advertising, award and other notices. Instead a new UK e-notification will be used (note, this is distinct from Contracts Finder, and the obligations related to the latter, which will continue unchanged).
The PPN suggests that contracting authorities might wish to contact to contact the e-sender service they use to see how the service intends to tie in with the new UK e-notification service (if at all). If you wish to publish directly to the UK e-notification service, you will need to register with Contracts Finder as a Buyer at www.supplierregistration.cabinetoffice.gov.uk. The guidance notes that the following e-senders have told Cabinet Office that they intend to integrate their services with the new UK e-notification service in advance of site launch:
- Adam (useadam.co.uk)
- ADB (UK) Limited
- Atamis Limited
- BiP Solutions
- European Dynamics
- EU Supply
- Millstream Associates (part of Proactis)
Likewise, suppliers currently registered to receive information about opportunities in the OJEU will need to register with the new UK e-notification service to receive these.
The new regime will apply to all procurements in train on, and new procurements commenced on or after, exit day. This means that if a procurement was started before exit day it will have been advertised in the OJEU, but where award is after exit day, the award notice will instead be published to the UK e-notification service.
The guidance appends some useful Q and As dealing with the no deal scenario, which are worth a read. These say that a beta version of the UK e-notification service is available to test, by contacting the Crown Commercial Service on firstname.lastname@example.org.