Court rejects trust claim that contract cannot be delivered within budget

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  • Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust in failed legal battle with Cornwall Council
  • Trust accused council of running “erroneous” procurement
  • Decision means trust will lose its sexual health services

 

A trust has lost its legal challenge aimed at getting a local authority to retender a sexual health services contract awarded to a charity provider.

Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust had accused Cornwall Council of unlawfully awarding a £2.5m contract to Brook. It claimed it would be impossible to run the services specified in the tender at that price.

In February, the council retendered the sexual health services contract held by the trust since 2013. The council valued its new seven-year contract at £2.5m per year after carrying out market research in 2018 and 2019.

However, the trust, which was placed in quality special measures in October 2017, objected the figure was too low. It spends £3m on the service, generating a loss of £120,000 every year.

Three weeks after the council published its tender, the trust announced it would not bid for the service.

In May, the council told the trust it would award the contract to Brook. Later that month, the trust launched a legal challenge to the High Court’s Technology and Construction Court to prevent the contract being awarded and force the council to relaunch the procurement with either a higher-value contract or different service specifications.

In its claim, the trust alleged Brook’s tender for the contract “could not have complied with the service specification within the financial envelope” or proposed a “level of resource that is abnormally low relative to the service specification”. It also argued that the council’s tender was irrational and “manifestly erroneous”. The council denied the allegations and asked the court to dismiss the case.

 

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Author: By

Date: 13 August 2019

Source: HSJ