Hempsons LLP has an established procurement law practice and a national reputation for the provision of high quality pragmatic legal advice and project management in this area. Procurement law is a fast moving and evolving area of law where specialist input is essential.
Public procurement generally has never had such a high profile. With the expected changes that the Procurement Bill will bring, as well as the introduction of the Provider Selection Regime to provide a bespoke regime for the commissioning of healthcare services, this is a period of significant change. This will bring a number of opportunities, and challenges, to contracting authorities and suppliers.
Our specialist procurement team, headed up by Andrew Daly, sits within a wider Corporate Commercial department and provides advice to contracting authorities and bidders nationally.
We also provide support and advice for organisations in receipt of grant funding who are required to run competitive processes and who may not ordinarily do so in their normal course of business.
Advice for contracting authorities
For contracting authorities Hempsons provides preventative procurement advice to manage risk by designing and implementing robust and defensible procurement processes and when disputes arise robustly defends procurement law challenges. Our team has in-depth understanding of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and Concessions Regulations and all other policy and legal requirements impacting on this area.
The team is also experienced in the specific regime relevant to the commissioning of health and social care services under the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice & Competition) (No.2) Regulations 2013 and the impact that the Light Touch Regime (LTR) has on the commissioning of such services. We are therefore well placed to advise commissioners on compliance with their legal duties whilst allowing them to capitalise on the flexibilities available to them under the LTR. As well as expert legal advice we provide a pragmatic approach – we understand the commercial and policy context and the different drivers affecting contracting authorities and suppliers.
We advise on all aspects of public procurement law and practice, from pre-procurement and market engagement, the initial advertisement of a contract opportunity through the invitation to tender and the evaluation of bid returns to post-award contract negotiations and advice on the renewal and extension of service contracts upon expiry in accordance with the applicable procurement regime.
We offer the project management of tendering processes for our clients. We advise on the timetabling of each significant element of the process and arrange support for teams including training on evaluation methodologies and risk management.
We are currently advising on the implications of the Procurement Bill, as well as specific changes to the commissioning of healthcare services envisaged under the Provider Selection Regime.
Key Services for contracting authorities
The main issues we are currently advising contracting authorities on include:
· The design and running of procurement processes for goods, services and works, for example EPR systems, capital purchases and linen and laundry services
· Successfully calling off from framework agreements
· The implications of the Light Touch Regime, in particular within the context of ICS/ICBs
· Running processes to select strategic estates partners, via the competitive dialogue procedure
· Designing and structuring processes, drafting procurement documentation and advising throughout various process under the open, restricted, competitive procedure with negotiation and competitive dialogue procedures
· Utilising the negotiated procedure without notice
· Defending procurement law challenges
· Advising on the extent to which existing contracts can be varied without competition
· Horizon scanning re legislative changes
Advice for suppliers
For suppliers, we advise and assist to help you navigate the complex interaction of common law rules, regulations and principles governing the public procurement arena to achieve your objectives, draft effective bids and win tenders. We can assist with preparation and/or scrutiny of proposed bid submissions to assist in responding to tender opportunities effectively and maximising your chances of success. Finally, we can assist in helping you understand award decisions and in challenging those decisions where appropriate.
Hempsons have successfully overturned a number of procurement processes on behalf of bidders, for example advising the two trusts in Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust & Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust v Lancashire County Council  EWHC 1589 (TCC).
Key Services for suppliers
The main issues we are currently advising suppliers on:
· How best to maximise the chances of successful bid submissions
· Challenging defective tender process
· Working with providers bidding to deliver strategic estates partnerships
· Structuring consortium bidding structures including confidentiality and exclusivity arrangements
· Advising you on obtaining debrief