Thursday, 17 October 2013

Seller beware - public procurement challenges can be painful

The name of Jan Fletcher will, I suspect, go down in public procurement history. Not because she was an advisor to Vince Cable, not because she was formerly Yorkshire Business Woman of the Year, not because of her CBE for Services to Industry, not because she was listed as one of the Top 20 Entrepreneurs. No, Ms Fletcher could gain procurement fame as the woman who turned the tide of public procurement challenges.

Ms Fletcher has been ordered to pay Leeds City Council £2m as an interim payment after losing a public procurement challenge. She claimed the Council had deceived her in the procurement process, while back in February a judge concluded the Council has acted with "honesty and integrity".

Is this latest development a good thing? Well there are two sides to the coin. I think this should serve as a warning that public procurement isn't always wrong and will serve as a reminder that court cases can prove very costly. It is a good day for those in public procurement who are professional and perhaps feel they are unfairly criticised. However, apart from being a bad day for Ms Fletcher, it is a sad day if we start to see the David's of the selling world become too fearful of challenging the Goliath's of public procurement.


  1. As a taxpayer, why should I pay twice for a public procurement mistake?
    I overpay once for the wrong winner, and then have to pay the loser as well?

    1. I have published the above comment in the hope that the Anonymous author can some light on the point they are trying to make and its relevance to the post. To be clear, in the Blog post case the taxpayer has been saved money as the Council were proved right and the costs of taking the false claim move from the supplier back to the Council - the taxpayer is better off.

  2. Suppliers shouldnt be able to sue the public sector for not winning a contract, even if the award was "unfair". I dont see what purpose it serves apart from making my tax bill higher.

    Sack incompetent buyers: imprison fraudsters: and where possible, re-run flawed tenders.

    But dont pay compensation.