Our lawyers work with local government, public sector bodies, government agencies, educational institutions and regulators. We understand the regulatory issues and budget pressures faced by public sector organisations and are able to provide expert legal services at a reasonable cost.
Our public sector lawyers advise on:
- buying and selling property and land
- right-to-buy sales, one-off sales and major property development schemes
- town centre redevelopment, regeneration and building sustainable communities
- planning and environmental law including enforcement notices, Section 106 agreements
- waste management matters including strategic policy advice
- compulsory purchase orders and other highway orders, agreements, licences and road traffic regulation orders
- Large Scale Voluntary Transfers (LSVTs) of council housing stock
- procurement and PFI/PPP
- corporate governance issues
- employment law including TUPE, equal pay, discrimination and employment tribunals
- privacy and data protection
- civil debt recovery
The rules governing public procurement receive a mixed press, but we prefer to focus on the positive impact they can have on an organisation and in promoting competition. It’s a given that our procurement experts have a highly-developed understanding of EU procurement regulations (including those regulating utilities and concessions), but clients find real benefit in our solutions-based advice. Our lawyers draw upon years of experience in numerous sectors, meaning we bring a balanced perspective in our advice and often identify alternatives that may not otherwise be apparent. Several of our team members have held senior in-house positions in contracting authorities or their private sector partners, giving them a true insight into how projects are delivered and how best improvements may be targeted. We also offer a full-service Construction Law Team, covering procurement issues in relation to works contracts and hard FM services.
Services for contracting authorities
Our team has significant experience of working with clients to ensure compliance with the EU procurement regulations and to maximise savings. We advise clients on the choice of procedure and devising bespoke procurement strategies, taking into account the client’s aims and their in-house capabilities which will ultimately impact on contract management. We also work with clients to identify areas where social value considerations have a role to play. Depending on a client’s requirements, we offer a full tender support service, drafting tender documents, supporting negotiations with bidders, advising on evaluations and assisting in contract award and feedback processes.
In a time where procurement challenges are so easy to raise, it is crucial to ensure robust processes are followed to avoid wasting time and costs in defending claims by disappointed bidders. However, where a challenge is brought or threatened against a client, we provide swift and pragmatic advice to ensure the client is best-placed to defend the challenge, or take any commercially sound steps to protect itself. Our services range from the important tactical and legal advice about how to respond to unsuccessful bidders’ initial inquires to defending legal proceedings. We have a track record of successfully fending off threatened challenges before proceedings are issued.
Services for delivery partners
Where clients bid for opportunities with a contracting authority, we are able to bring much value to the process, using our experience gained from years of working with partners to the public sector. We offer advice throughout each stage of a bid process. Frequently, clients will seek a review of the key areas of risk under bid documents, where we will either flag areas for further negotiation or, if there is little scope to negotiate, areas for internal mitigation with the client. We are then able to support clients through any negotiation process, taking a leading or supporting role depending on requirements. Our experience across a broad range of sectors and in negotiating so many public sector contracts whilst acting on both sides leaves us best-placed to identify risks to clients and areas to push for the best possible deal.
Should a tender not go in a client’s favour, we advise on the possibilities, practicalities and risks of bringing a procurement challenge against the contracting authority. Our services range from advice about possible grounds for challenge to issuing legal proceedings. In both cases, we have a track record of persuading contracting authorities to abandon tenders and start again.
Driving increased efficiencies through effective procurement and rigorous contract management requires sound, commercially-based advice. We work with clients to develop bespoke contract management processes, which start with ensuring all members of the team understand fundamental points of a contract. We recognise how procurement/ sales teams and delivery teams often work at a distance and therefore we place high value on working across the organisation to advise on how best to operate and enforce an awarded contract, including providing training wherever required.
Meet the team
Should you wish to discuss further how Wright Hassall’s dedicated team can help your organisation, please contact either Suzannah Lucas (general procurement) or Justin Byrne (procurement challenges) in the first instance. For any support in relation to construction law and procurement, please contact Mike Hiscock.
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