UK Public Procurement Law Digest: Risks of Abandoning Procurements


Court defeat for contracting authority shows the potential risks of aborting a public procurement in favour of a parallel procurement, and highlights issues in the use of a “public sector comparator” model.

Leeds City Council has lost the first stage of what might be a protracted legal battle over its cancellation of a procurement for the design and construction of a new music and entertainments venue. The Council sought to dispose early parts of the procurement challenge from an aggrieved bidder, but its attempt to do so was rejected. As a result, a question mark now hangs over public bodies which want to cancel a procurement part-way through. An interesting side note to the case is that it potentially calls into doubt the Council’s use of a “public sector comparator” to assess affordability and value for money. Since the Council fell at this first hurdle, both of these issues will now proceed to a full court hearing. The eventual result will provide clarification to many contracting authorities.

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