Public Contracts Regulations 2015

EU procurement may not always seem the sexiest topic but it affects most aspects of public services and is vitally important for all who are involved in infrastructure and the delivery of publicly funded projects and services. David Hickman explains the importance of the new Regulations.

EU procurement law is going through its biggest change for ten years. New Directives were brought into force in 2014 and now member states, including the UK, are bringing these into effect. This Alert focuses on the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR), which came into force in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (with limited exceptions) on 26 February 2015. NHS procurements are excluded from the application of PCR until April 2016. Also please note that separate regimes apply for utilities and concession contracts.

One of the key themes of PCR is making public procurement faster, more flexible and easier, especially for SMEs. This will probably strike a chord with many private sector players who struggle with the current complexities and timescales of bidding for government work.

Key changes at a glance

The above is a brief summary of a complex area. Procurement managers and other professionals will need to be fully conversant with this. Here are some immediate things contracting authorities should be looking to do now:

  1. Review and update Standing Orders, precedents, and other regularly used documents and forms.
  2. Review the pipeline of procurements they are planning and ensuring staff appreciate the need to have procurement documents available “up front”.
  3. Training and awareness sessions for staff.
  4. Monitor the Cabinet Office guidance which will be important.
  5. Consider which types of procurement process to follow- the new, more flexible approaches offered by CPN and (on complex procurements) CDP may be more attractive in some cases but may be “resource heavy”.
  6. Get used to using Contracts Finder.

What steps should bidders take?

  1. Again, make sure you and your team understand the key new changes brought in by PCR with training and awareness sessions.
  2. Bidders will need to be geared up to procurements being more front end loaded. With projects moving forward at a faster pace this may require more concentrated use of resources.
  3. Be aware of some of the other important changes introduced in PCR, for instance the new provision requiring that head contracts and sub contracts contain clauses requiring payment of undisputed amounts within 30 days.
  4. Review your standard documentation used in bidding processes and your sub contracts and other regularly used items. These will need to comply with PCR.
  5. Monitor Contracts Finder for opportunities.

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This article is for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. It should not be used as a substitute for legal advice relating to your particular circumstances. Please note that the law may have changed since the date of this article.

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