Duty To Give Reasons In Annex IIB Contracts – Forum Connemara Limited v Galway County Council

Author:Mr Aaron Boyle
Profession:Arthur Cox
 
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In August 2016, the High Court gave judgment in the case of Forum Connemara Limited ("Forum") v Galway County Local Community Development Committee ("GCLCDC") [2016] IEHC 493. The case concerned the duty on statutory bodies and contracting authorities to give reasons.

Facts

GCLCDC is charged with the delivery of a programme known as the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme ("SICAP"). SICAP had previously been delivered by two providers but, at a meeting on 30 September 2014, GCLCDC made the decision that there should only be one service provider for SICAP for the entire County of Galway. A two-stage procurement process was entered into and, following stage one, Forum and four other providers were invited to participate in stage two. GCLCDC subsequently awarded the contract to Galway Rural Development Company Limited and Forum was advised that it had been unsuccessful.

Forum's Submissions

A preliminary issue relating to time limits was previously heard before the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal had reminded applicants of the need to act expeditiously in challenging procurement procedures.  In the present case the following issues were addressed:

whether GCLCDC gave adequate and intelligible reasons for its decision dated 2 March 2015 not to award the SICAP contract to Forum; and whether the decision was proportionate, rational and in accordance with fair procedures as set out in the various EU Public Procurement Directives. Decision

Hedigan J reiterated that the role of judicial review is limited to determining whether a decision of an administrative act is lawful or unlawful not to act as a Court of appeal from the original decision per se.  The Court said that the acts are presumed lawful unless the contrary is shown and that where there is "any reasonable basis" upon which a contracting authority can award a public contract the Court has no jurisdiction to interfere.  The Court considered that:

as the contract in question was an "Annex II B" contract, many of the EU obligations to give reasons for a decision were not applicable. It was accepted however that there is a general legal requirement on public...

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