11 KBW secures injunction against Merseyside waste contract

11 KBW has secured an injunction for Covanta Energy preventing Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority (MWDA) from going ahead with a £1.2bn contract with rival waste management company SITA.

SITA was contracted to dispose of half a million tonnes of rubbish from Liverpool and surrounding areas across the Pennines by train but Covanta is claiming the tendering process was legally flawed. It was granted an injunction preventing MWDA from proceeding with the contract in a High Court hearing on 26 September 2013.

Pinsent Masons fielded EU and procurement solicitor Christopher Murray and senior associate Andrew Herring for Covanta, instructing 11 KBW’s Nigel Giffin QC and Joseph Barrett.

MWDA chose longtime advisers Eversheds to defend the claim. The authority’s accounts show that Eversheds has picked up fees of almost £1m this year.

Litigation partner Richard Matthews instructed Keating Chambers’ Sarah Hannaford QC and Simon Taylor.

The legal battle hangs on the scoring process for the tendering process for the 30-35 year contract, which Covanta claims was legally flawed.

The company was awarded a higher score than winning bidder SITA in one key aspect of the bid but scored 0 per cent on two areas. Covanta is arguing that MWDA should have informed it about the scoring earlier in the six-year competitive tendering process.

In another key area SITA was awarded a lower score than Covanta, who wanted to develop an energy from waste plant in Cheshire. In the financial criteria, which counted for 40 per cent of the total score, Covanta scored 17.85 against SITA’s 11.33 per cent.

The case will now go to trial, which is estimated to take 15 days. The case could be heard either in the Technology & Construction Court in Leeds in March 2014 or in the Rolls Building in London in April or May next year.

Mr Justice Coulson said the injunction would involve the “least risk of injustice” and that the nine-month delay in bringing the case to trial was a “modest delay when set against the delays thus far of six years”.

The legal line-up:

For the claimants, Covanta Energy

11 KBW’s Nigel Giffin QC and Joseph Barrett, instructed by Pinsent Masons EU and procurement solicitor Christopher Murray and senior associate Andrew Herring

For the defendants, Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority

Keating Chambers’ Sarah Hannaford QC and Simon Taylor, instructed by Eversheds partner Richard Matthews and associate Chris Buddle