A major London teaching trust has seen its decision to award a five-year waste management contract challenged by an unsuccessful bidder which claims it was denied a “fair and lawful opportunity to compete” for the contract.
Guy’s and St Thomas Foundation Trust ran a procurement for waste management services, including clinical and non-clinical waste, last year.
The contract was divided into four lots and was worth up to £12m in total over five years, including all possible extensions.
However, its decision to award the contract for clinical waste services to its preferred bidder, Sharpsmart, has been challenged in the High Court by Stericycle. The company said in court documents that it had “been denied an equal, transparent, fair and lawful opportunity to compete for the award of and be awarded the contract”.
Stericycle said if its bid had been lawfully evaluated it “would have been judged as being the most economically advantageous” and awarded the contract. But it said the trust had “conducted such a flawed evaluation and moderation process such that no reliance at all can be placed upon the purported outcome”.
The company said it was beaten twice to the contract in two successive evaluations of the competing bids. The trust put out an invitation for bids in November 2022 and announced in March it had awarded the contract for the clinical waste lot to Albus Environmental Limited, according to Stericycle’s claim. Stericycle said it questioned this decision in correspondence with the trust; in early April.
GSTT said it would withdraw the award and re-evaluate the tender responses for the lot in question. On 5 September it wrote to Stericycle to say it had been unsuccessful again. This time the contract would be awarded to Sharpsmart.
Stericycle said the trust had given it limited information regarding the evaluation of its own bid while it had “refused to provide any information or disclosure in relation to the evaluation of Sharpsmart’s tender response”.
It said it began legal proceedings because the trust had “refused to extend the standstill period” between choosing a winning bidder and awarding the contract. Therefore, Stericycle “was obliged to issue proceedings in order to protect its position while it sought to obtain the information and disclosure to which it is entitled”.
The trust’s award notification failed to provide sufficient reasons for the award to Sharpsmart, “in particular given that it obtained a preference Technical Score and within a highly constrained wordcount”, the company argued.
It added that the trust had given it scores below what its tender merited on three questions in the technical section of the evaluation.
The trust has yet to file its response with the court. Both parties declined further comment as they said they would not comment further on an ongoing legal matter.
Date: 16 October