In December 2009, the Public Contracts (Amendments) Regulations 2009 came into force, which implemented the new Remedies Directive. The changes introduced had a significant impact on 'accelerated debrief' procedures which had been a means for tenderers to obtain information about an unsuccessful bid following contract award. From this they would then be able, if they so decided, to issue a challenge to the award.
Public contracting authorities must leave a period of least 10 days between a contract award decision and the formal award of the contract. This is known as the standstill (Alcatel) period. It is a legal requirement for all public contracting authority procurement processes covered by the full scope of the EU Procurement Directives.
The purpose of the standstill is to allow unsuccessful bidders the chance to obtain more information on the award of the contract so they can take appropriate action if they believe they have been unfairly treated. The commencement of the standstill (Alcatel) period is from the date the authority decides to award the contract. The standstill (Alcatel) period will last from 10 to 15 days, depending on the method by which the Alcatel letter is communicated.
The 2009 Remedies Directive removed the provision for an accelerated debrief and replaced it with an obligation for those awarding the contract to provide a more comprehensive statement of the reasons for the decision as part of the initial notice. This full debrief information accompanies all Alcatel standstill letters that are sent, not just to those bidders that request it.
Prior to these changes, unsuccessful bidders had to request an accelerated debrief by the end of the second working day of the standstill period. Responses to those requests had to be made within day 3-7 of the standstill period, with any delays resulting in a time extension.
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