When can experts assist the court in procurement disputes?

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The procurement of major infrastructure projects is long and complex, costing millions. Bidders routinely instruct consultants to provide expertise on technical matters, pricing and turning each proposal into a viable, attractive and cost effective submission. Public authorities likewise instruct expert consultants to evaluate bids. With so much at stake, not least huge sums of public money, the role of experts can be crucial.  It would therefore seem obvious that when major litigation emerges from a procurement, the parties should be able to rely on expert evidence in support of their case.

Not so. In the case of By Development Ltd and Ors -v- Covent Garden Market Authority, the Court concluded that the Claimants should not rely on expert evidence in support of claims that the Defendant public authority had committed manifest errors in the assessment of bids.

The case involved the major redevelopment of the “new” Covent Garden site in South London, where the market has operated for nearly 40 years. The Claimants’ bid was unsuccessful. They issued proceedings claiming that the authority’s evaluation of the bids contained manifest errors, particularly on planning matters. The Court refused permission for expert evidence on planning and financial issues…

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