Around 5 billion Euros each year are spent buying products and services through public procurement procedures in the European Union. The process is designed to identify the best deal for taxpayers across Europe when their Governments and public authorities are buying products and services on a grand scale.

With so much public money at stake, fairness and transparency are two of the guiding principles of the public procurement process. It was in that context that No5’s commercial clerks were contacted to identify a junior barrister who could: a) advise on procurement matters, b) advise on public law and regulatory matters, c) take on board a number of papers and instructions in a very tight time frame.

The case that landed on Ian Brownhill‘s desk was not a usual procurement case. There were suspicions about actions of the public authority and there had been conflicting communications with the client in the tender process. Ian quickly identified that aspects of the procurement process were potentially justiciable, so the public authority had to extend the stand still period and provide much more comprehensive reasons as to why Ian’s client was not awarded a contract in the tender.

Following a thorough analysis of the new response by the public authority it was decided not to issue proceedings. However, Ian’s client was happy that they had a new insight into how the public authority worked when it came to any new procurement processes in which they may wish to tender.

Ian Brownhill is a member of the public law team and regulatory team at No5 Chambers, he often advises in areas where the two areas of law collide.