Balance of Convenience

August 9th, 2021 by James Goudie KC

The commencement of proceedings challenging the procurement of a contract brings into effect an automatic stay upon entering into the contract. Should the Court lift the stay? If there is a serious issue to be tried, and there is doubt as to the adequacy of damages for either of the parties, the issue turns on balance of convenience. In Draeger v London Fire Commissioner (2021) EWHC 2221 (TCC) O’Farrell J, at para 48, states that the balance of convenience test requires the Court to consider all the circumstances of the case. The question is what course of action is likely to carry the least risk of injustice. She restates the factors: (1) how long might the suspension have to be kept in force if an expedited trial could be ordered; (2) the public interest; and (3) the interests of all parties, including the successful bidder. If these factors do not point in one direction then the prudent course will usually be to lift the suspension and allow the contract to be entered into.

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