All White Now

Those attending the annual White Paper Conference on procurement law last week were treated to an insight from leading commentators into the likely future direction of procurement law.

Predictions of future developments included:

  • an increased focus on value for money and less of a technical and mechanistic approach to interpreting the rules;
  • an attempt to breath new life into the competitive dialogue procedure, with reduced (if any) restrictions on its use, and scope for post-tender negotiation;
  • the (welcome?) return of the negotiated procedure to mainstream use;
  • further increases in the use of electronic procurement, including availability of all tender and contract documentation online earlier in the procurement process; and
  • improved training and guidance for those involved in procurement.

Speakers also highlighted the need for clarity about how the government's extensive plans for mutuals would be impacted by the procurement regime. Watch this space!

The White Paper speakers also had some interesting things to say about developments on procurement challenges. Among the views expressed:

  • the American Cyanamid test which has been adopted by the courts for dealing with automatic suspension cases is natural to English courts but imposes a real barrier to claimants;
  • there may be insufficient weight given to the public interest in getting procurements right as opposed to procuring the service;
  • ineffectiveness as a remedy was counter-intuitive to English courts and unlikely to be very well effective; and
  • there was little prospect of the EU legislation on remedies being amended in the near future given how recently the Remedies Directive has been introduced.

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