We act for both public bodies and private clients operating in the public sector on the full range of issues affecting them. This includes public procurement, judicial review, breach of duty or misfeasance in public office and regulatory appeal processes, as well as all issues arising under complex contractual arrangements including PFI/PPP and other outsourcing arrangements.
We help clients operating in the public sector navigate their way through complex contractual provisions to give them commercially focussed advice which effectively manages the risks and disputes that often happen on complex projects, particularly in long term relationships (e.g. PFI/PPP). We work as part of the client team, really getting to know them and the contract. We help resolve issues and risks as and when they come up, mindful that there is often a need to maintain and improve contract management, relationships and performance.
We regularly act for both public and private entities in contractual dispute processes; from the obligatory initial consultation through to adjudication and even beyond, challenging adjudication decisions where appropriate. This gives us an insight into the thought processes and pressures on both contracting parties and is often invaluable in reaching resolution.
We are regularly instructed to advise both authorities and contractors on procurement issues at various stages of a project. This ranges from advising on the need for a procurement process at the outset of a project or in relation to the variation of a procured contract, through to advising on procurement issues arising on termination of a contract.
Our advice includes assessing the merits and risks relating to formal procurement challenges. The deadlines for procurement challenges are extremely tight. We work with our clients to fully understand the issues so that we can give responsive and pragmatic advice, quickly assessing whether the grounds for challenge exist and providing a cost-benefit analysis in relation to any potential challenge.
We also regularly advise on the lawfulness of decisions by public bodies, such as departments of state, schools, waste authorities and Ofgem. We assist with the statutory appeal processes and potential judicial review applications which challenge those decisions. Again, the timescales are tight so the emphasis is on working co-operatively with our clients to provide timely and responsive advice. We focus on what can practically be achieved by raising a challenge while making sure deadlines are met.
Acting regularly for both public authorities and private contractors on these types of matters gives us an invaluable insight into both mindsets and the issues and considerations affecting both. This includes the pressures on contract management and performance, internal governance and political issues, all of which inevitably have an impact and need to be taken into account when advising in this area.