UK Public Procurement Law Digest: The Dangers of Prison Food, Electronic Auctions, and Moving Goalposts in Public Procurement


In recent procurement law cases, courts have tended to side with public authorities (rather than bidders) when considering whether a claim raises a serious issue to be tried. In this case, at least on three counts, the Court refused to rule out a procurement complaint based on allegations of irregularity in the award process. The judge indicated his willingness to let the aggrieved bidder have its day in court. The one ground on which the Court agreed with the government – that the time limits for bringing claims should be closely adhered to – is consistent with previous cases.

The case is Harry Yearsley Limited v The Secretary of State for Justice [2011] EWHC 1160 (TCC), a decision made by the English High Court in an application made by the UK government to strike out and seek summary judgment in respect of parts of a claim brought by a disgruntled food supplier which lost out in a tender to supply the UK’s prisons with frozen food.

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