Procurement in a nutshell – the Light Touch Regime
13th March, 2015
In this Procurement in a Nutshell note we will be looking at the "Light Touch Regime" under the Public Contract Regulations 2015.
The full regulations are available here.
The Light Touch Regime is set out at regulations 74 to 77 and applies to contracts for health, social and other related services listed in Schedule 3 which are above the value of €750,000 (£625,050).
Where the regime applies:
- Contracting Authorities (CAs) must issue a call for competition through the use of a contract notice or by means of a prior information notice (unless a negotiated procedure without prior publication could have been used in accordance with regulation 32).
- CAs are free to determine the procedures they use but these must be at least sufficient to ensure compliance with the principles of transparency and equal treatment.
- All time limits imposed must be reasonable and proportionate.
- CAs also have to comply with the information set out in their call for competition about conditions, time limits and award procedure.
- CAs can only deviate from the information contained in the call for competition where this would not breach the principles of transparency and equal treatment and where the CA has considered and concluded that there is no breach, documented its conclusions and the reason for it and informed all participants in the procurement of the way in which it intends to proceed when this differs from the notice.
- CAs can take into account any relevant considerations in deciding to award their contract, including the need to ensure quality, continuity, accessibility, affordability, availability and the comprehensiveness of the services, the specific needs of different user groups, the involvement and empowerment of users and innovation.
- Once a CA has awarded the contract, it must publish an award notice, although it can group these and publish them on a quarterly basis.
- CAs can limit participation in the procurement to mutuals (this is not available where the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No 2) Regulations 2013 apply).
CAs should be aware that the Light Touch Regime applies only from 18 April 2016 where the NHS Regulations apply.
Until that date, the existing regime continues to apply.
Why is it important?
This is the first time that there has been a specific regime in relation to what were Part B services under the old 2006 Public Contracts Regulations.
Nevertheless, the Light Touch Regime does give CAs considerable flexibility on the procedures to award these contracts, although they should bear in mind the prescribed rules on advertising opportunities and contract award and ensure they are always compliant with the treaty principles.
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.
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