Awarding Public Contracts Skilfully and Lawfully within the Procurement Rules

Tue 23 May 2017

The Hilton Hotel 4 Lanyon Pl Belfast BT1 3LP

Answers to 17 Thorny Questions: Directly from 7 of the UK's Most Sought After Lawyers and 3 Industry Experts


  1. Registration and coffee

  2. ​Chairman's Introduction

    Awarding public contracts skilfully and lawfully within the procurement rules

    Chaired by: Edward Quigg of Quigg Golden

    Edward is one of the UK's most-sought-after public procurement experts and a veteran of scores of challenges. He is a guest lecturer at Queens University, Belfast and the Treasurer of the Adjudication Society.

  3. Panellists

    Sharon Smyth of the Central Procurement Directorate

    Jason Johnston of Northern Ireland Water

    Sharon and Jason will be commenting, taking questions and inspiring practical solutions throughout the day.

  4. ​Perceptions of bias

    How do you eliminate any inference or perception of bias at the tender stage towards certain suppliers, e.g. those who (1) participated in soft-market testing or consultation or (2) are incumbents or project advisers who informed the specification or (3) have staff cross over?

    Answered by: Sarah Hannaford QC

    Sarah is "celebrated for her skill in procurement law and acts in the most significant cases". She defended the Legal Aid Agency from challenges from over 100 firms over the contracts for criminal legal aid work.

  5. ​Post-award variations

    Drawing on grey area examples, how do you move your post tender negotiations into compliant post award variations?

    On a sliding scale of risk what are the do's and dont's of tender negotiations?

    Answered by: Michael Humphreys QC

    Michael is one of NI's go to public procurement silks. He is renowned for his excellent advocacy, commercial acumen and involvement in a long-list of leading cases. He is Chair of the Commercial Bar Association.

  6. Morning coffee

  7. ​Price/Quality evaluations

    When budget settlements are so tight, what is the best practice model for Price/Quality evaluation and scoring methodologies?

    Is there a creative way of going beyond conventional Price/Quality formulae?

    Should we use price:quality ratios?

    Answered by: Emily Heard of Bevan Brittan

    Emily is author of "NHS Procurement Knife Fight". She acted in the Fair Crime Contract Alliance litigation, which was described by the High Court as the most complex public procurement dispute ever brought.

  8. ​Abnormally low bids

    What is a tangible methodology for avoiding widely differing bids and determining abnormally low bids?

    Should you determine and record in advance a price level which you consider to be abnormally low?

    Answered by: Bruno Herbots of Herbots Solicitors

    Bruno worked on the development of Ireland's National Paediatric Hospital Projects. He is renowned for "his inventive procurement solutions" and for being a highly gifted public speaker.

  9. Lunch

  10. Subjective criteria

    How do you describe what you are looking for with more subjective criteria without giving the answer to suppliers, e.g. (1) "functionality" or "ease of use", (2) innovative method statements and programmes of work or (3) demonstrations and interviews?

    Answered by: David Gollancz of Keating Chambers

    David established and led the Treasury Solicitor's Public Procurement and Contracts Team. He is “incredibly sharp" and "just doesn't stop until he's found you a solution or an argument".

  11. Past performance

    What is the key to an objective and legally robust assessment of a bidder's past performance?

    How much weight do you give it, especially if the bidder is a start-up, a phoenix company or new to the market?

    Answered by: Rebecca Rees of Trowers & Hamlins

    Rebecca is commended for her ability to find "opportunities to innovate and be different". She brings a lot of case experience to the table. She is "very focused and confident in communicating her advice".

  12. ​Social Value

    How do you create a golden opportunity to introduce social value into your contracts?

    How do you evaluate and measure it, e.g. the Apprenticeship levy?

    How do you enforce it if the bidder doesn’t carry through?

    Answered by: Joseph Barrett of 11 KBW

    Joseph has acted in more than 100 High Court public procurement cases. He is "one of the leading juniors at the bar and a real star of the future". He is “someone who doesn't sit on the fence”.

  13. Overrun

  14. Close of conference

** All speaker quotes are taken from Chambers Directory, Who's Who Legal and Legal 500