Awarding Public Contracts Skilfully and Lawfully within the Procurement Rules

Thu 11 May 2017

The Playfair Building Surgeons' Hall, Nicolson St Edinburgh EH8 9DW

Answers to 17 Thorny Questions: Directly from 8 of Scotland's Most Sought After Lawyers and 2 Industry Experts


  1. Registration and coffee

  2. Chairman's Introduction

    Awarding public contracts skilfully and lawfully within the procurement rules

    Chaired by: Duncan Osler, Head of Procurement, MacRoberts

    Duncan brings a huge number of procurement cases to the table. Recent work includes the Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh projects. He is a Board member of Social Enterprise Scotland.

  3. Panellists

    Jamie McRorie, Principal Adviser, Ofgem

    Simon Rawlinson, Partner and Head of Strategic Research and Insight, Arcadis

    Allan Mackenzie, Principal Solicitor, Aberdeenshire Council

    Jamie, Simon and Allan 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: Christine O'Neil, Chairman, Brodies

    Christine is "one of Scotland’s elite public law solicitors". She is acclaimed for her "ability to articulate complex legal issues". She represents, among others, the Scottish Government in procurement cases.

  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: Morag Ross QC

    Morag is known for being "probably the silk with the most procurement knowledge in all of Scotland". She is "extremely bright; fabulous on her feet; authoritative and persuasive".

  6. Morning coffee

  7. 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: Rhona Harper of Shepherd and Wedderburn

    Rhona is a "seasoned authority" who "gets to the kernel of a problem straight away". She recently advised five local authorities on procuring twelve new schools.

  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. 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: David McGowan, Director, Maclay Murray & Spens

    David is a "public procurement star" - "hugely experienced and a joy to work with". He is known for his high-profile work with Network Rail. He is on the editorial board of the Public Procurement Law Review.

  11. 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: Roger Cotton, Head of Procurement, Brodies

    Roger has "exceptional insight, perception and expertise". He advised Abellio on its successful bid for the ScotRail franchise and Aberdeen City Council in the procurement of a joint venture partner for housing.

  12. 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: Graeme Palmer, Director, Burness Paull

    Graeme is held in "the highest esteem for his knowledge of public procurement". He is incisive and no-nonsense; "providing effective solutions without grandstanding". He is a highly sought after commentator.

  13. Overrun

  14. Close of conference

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