Procurement Damages

September 22nd, 2022 by James Goudie KC

In Braceurself Ltd v NHS England (2022) EWHC 2348 (Admin) there was a two-horse contract race. The outcome of the procurement competition was very close. Even minor breaches of the procurement regime by the contracting authority could have had a decisive impact on the outcome. There was an actual loss of the contract, not the mere loss of the chance of winning a contract.  There was a breach. The Claimant sought damages. It failed, notwithstanding the “powerful impact” of the breach on the outcome. The breach was held not to be “sufficiently serious” to justify an award of FRANCOVICH/BRASSERIE DU PECHEUR damages. Whether that was the case, in accordance with the House of Lords decision in FACTORTAME, the UK Supreme Court decision in ENERGY SOLUTIONS v NUCLEAR DECOMMISSIONING AUTHORITY and the decision of the Court of Appeal in DELANEY v SoS for TRANSPORT, was the issue. That depended on all the many relevant factors and the individual facts of the case, as recognized by the Court of Appeal in Ocean Outdoor v Hammersmith & Fulham LBC. The impact of the breach on the availability of public services is amongst the relevant considerations. The Judge said, at para 90, that the phrase “sufficiently serious” indicates that a “fairly high threshold” must be passed before it can be said that, in all the circumstances, the test had been satisfied. This was because (1) it was a single breach case, (2) the breach was at the excusable end of the spectrum and minor, (3)the was inadvertent and occurred in good faith, (4) the Defendant’s purpose was a laudable one, (5)  overall the procurement was carefully planned and well-organised, (6) the adverse impact from the breach was limited, and (7) the case was far removed from the multiple breach case in ENERGY SOLUTIONS.

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