Roth J hands victory to Eurostar in train contract row

Eurostar is not a utility obliged to comply with the Public Contract and Utilities Regulations, the High Court ruled today, in an ongoing procurement trial between it and Alstom Transport.

The pivotal decision relates to the case brought by Alstom against Eurostar after it granted Siemens the contract for building a new fleet of trains in anticipation of the Channel Tunnel being opened up to its competitors.

The decision prompted Alstom to instruct Hogan Lovells partners Ciara Kennedy-Loest and Rupert Sydenham to pursue the transport body for, it alleged, being in breach of EU regulations on procurement (3 January 2011).

This latest judgment in the ongoing legal battle will be considered a major win for Eurostar, which was represented by Monckton Chambers’ Michael Bowsher QC, whp was instructed by Burges Salmon partner Chris Jackson.

Handing down judgment today, Mr Justice Roth said: “It seems clear that LCR [London and Continental Railways]  and SNCF [Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français] have been at all material times bodies governed by public law since they are wholly owned by respectively, the British and French governments.”

It will be a blow to the claimant, which instructed Keating Chambers’ Sarah Hannaford QC, as the case can only now proceed on a secondary claim brought by Alstom over Eurostar’s ’tender contract’ argument.