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Procurement in a nutshell – award criteria

In this Procurement in a Nutshell, we will be looking at contract award criteria permitted under the Public Contracts Regulations 2015.

The regulations are available in full here.

What’s new?

Under regulation 67(1), Contracting Authorities (CAs) must base award on the most economically advantageous tender (MEAT) from their point of view.

MEAT can be identified on the basis of the price or cost, using a cost-effectiveness approach and can take account of lifecycle costing and include the use of a price quality ratio that can be assessed on social, environmental and qualitative aspects so long as these are linked to the subject matter of the contract.

These criteria can include:

  • quality (including technical merit, accessibility, innovation);
  • organisation, qualification and experience of staff performing the contract;
  • after sales service and technical assistance.

Award criteria must not confer an unrestricted freedom of choice on the CA.

Award criteria must:

  • ensure the possibility of effective competition;
  • be accompanied by specifications which allow the CA to verify the tenders and to assess how well the criteria has been met.

Weightings must be set out in the procurement documents.

Weightings can be expressed as a range and where this is not possible, the CA has to indicate the importance of the criteria by listing them in descending order.

Why is it important?

It is vital that CAs know and set out transparently the basis on which they will award any public contract that they procure in order to comply with the regulations and especially to protect themselves from the risk of challenge. CAs will therefore need to carefully design their procurements and their procurement documents with this in mind.

As has always been the case, criteria must be linked to the subject matter of the contract. However, for the first time, CAs can use social and environmental criteria, broadening the range of factors CAs can consider.

How can I find out more?

If you have any queries on the issues raised or on any aspect of procurement, please contact us via our procurement hotline on 0191 204 4464.

Please note that this briefing is designed to be informative, not advisory and represents our understanding of English law and practice as at the date indicated. We would always recommend that you should seek specific guidance on any particular legal issue.

This page may contain links that direct you to third party websites. We have no control over and are not responsible for the content, use by you or availability of those third party websites, for any products or services you buy through those sites or for the treatment of any personal information you provide to the third party.

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