Bidding and Brexit – some of the questions

Since the Brexit vote, we have received a number of questions from our clients.  These include:

1. Is the OJEU process still applicable to UK public sector buyers?

2. Will Brexit spell the end of public sector procurement as we know it?

3. What effect may the Brexit vote have on how contractors handle their bidding requirements?

In the current times of great change, there are many uncertainties and much that is still to be decided.  However, I hope the information below in response to these questions is of some assistance at this stage.

1. Is the OJEU process still applicable to UK public sector buyers and suppliers?

Answer: Yes, and it will likely remain so until the country exits from the European Union.  Public sector procurement legislation is actually primary UK legislation and would require an Act of Parliament to be repealed. 

2. Will Brexit spell the end of public sector procurement as we know it?

Answer: Most unlikely.  The public sector had procurement arrangements in place before the UK joined the EU.  Procurement rules are likely to be a condition of any future free trade agreement with the EU.  Even if that were not the case, and the UK was able to restrict their procurement to UK companies, the public sector will almost definitely still retain much of their current procurement arrangements.  Can we realistically imagine that the public sector would be content to enter into contracts without a procurement process that allowed them to evaluate tenders on a price/quality basis?  Procurement has a valuable role to play in determining the Most Economically Advantageous Tenders and in reducing the prospects of corruption in the award of contracts.

3. What effect may the Brexit vote have on how contractors handle their bidding requirements?

Answer: Recent years have seen an upsurge in the number of businesses outsourcing some or all of their bidding activities.  The Brexit vote may well increase the instances of this as some companies look to reduce their numbers of permanent staff; or bid staff become a casualty of lower than expected sales volumes / opportunities coming to market.  However, many businesses are experiencing the benefits of bringing in highly competent, widely experienced, external assistance which can help give them the edge on their competition.  New times bring new challenges, but also in some cases new answers and new approaches.    

In summary, while some have speculated that Brexit could spell the end of public sector procurement as we know it, it seems likely that changes to the current arrangements for bidding may be minimal, at least in the short to medium term.