Q&As

To what extent can a contracting authority approach/ask an individual bidder in a public procurement exercise to amend their bid, or to correct mistakes?

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Produced in partnership with Brendan Ryan of Pinsent Masons
Published on LexisPSL on 25/10/2016

The following Public Law Q&A produced in partnership with Brendan Ryan of Pinsent Masons provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • To what extent can a contracting authority approach/ask an individual bidder in a public procurement exercise to amend their bid, or to correct mistakes?

A contracting authority might wish to invite a bidder to correct a mistake in a tender submission for a public contract. Such a correction might serve to ensure that a bid which would otherwise be inadmissible, remains in the tender process, or it might result in the authority receiving a better offer if the tenderer has erroneously submitted a higher price than it intended to. Both cases are consistent with the objective of promoting the widest possible competition.

However, the discretion of contracting authorities to approach tenderers in this way is potentially open to abuse and is therefore is tightly controlled. It goes without saying that a contracting authority cannot invite a bidder to amend its tender in a way which would not be permitted if the bidder approached the contracting authority.

'Mere clarification' to correct obvious errors, which was discussed in SAG ELV Slovensko v Urad, should be permitted provided tenderers are treated equally. Moreover, in Natural World Products Ltd v ARC 21, the Northern Irish High Court held that

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