Procurement rules have never been straightforward. The complexity of their latest incarnation (three directives running to 600 pages) hardly makes compliance easy. In addition, case law has probably evolved faster in procurement than in most other disciplines. So the job of producing a slim, accessible guide to this rapidly growing area is a tough call.
Yet this book does so. At 250 pages, it guides us through procurement law logically and coherently. From the start, the author puts the reader at ease – reminding us that procurement law is essentially there to enable the public sector to vouchsafe certain functions for the public benefit, and to source them from the best place. The rest of the book glides effortlessly from there.
This clarity might be partly due to the fact that the author is a procurement consultant. That makes it special: most other texts dealing with aspects of the public procurement regime are written by lawyers, and tend to appeal to other lawyers. This book looks through different eyes. It distils the law to make it accessible, both to lawyers and to procurement operatives in the public sector who may not have (or be able to access) specialist legal advice.
Author: Abby Semple
Publisher: Oxford University Press, first edition, 2015 (£95)
Nor should the book appeal only to a public-sector readership: it should equally aid suppliers. It is surely beneficial for suppliers to understand why these rules matter. They then know what to expect, why to expect it, and what rights they have if something goes wrong.
This book’s release could not be more timely. With the 2014 public procurement directive implemented nationally from February 2015, public purchasers suddenly have a new regulatory landscape to learn. This book elucidates the key concepts, principles and procedural rules, including those applying to new procedures introduced by the directive.
It deals with the rules around candidate selection and award criteria; the flexibility for purchasers to factor sustainability considerations into procurement; and the rules on post-award contract modifications. It concludes by addressing remedies, and explaining the (short) limitation periods for bringing procurement claims.
Distilling such an idiosyncratic area of law and practice into a volume as accessible would not have been an easy brief. This is a valuable addition to the law library.
Christopher Brennan is a consultant and head of regulated procurement at Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co