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Public Procurement and Tendering, Ireland

Across Europe, the scale of procurement by public bodies and utility entities is huge. Billions of Euros are spent annually across a wide range of activities and sectors. In Ireland, the market is worth approximately €16 billion each year, which equates to 9% of GDP. This is expected to rise in the coming years as the Irish Government is committed to increasing its expenditure on infrastructure.

Public bodies are constantly under pressure to buy smartly, spend less and collaborate with others in purchasing. This often means bigger, higher profile procurement activity, often using competitive dialogue, frameworks or central purchasing arrangements. Buyers’ procurement practices can also fall under scrutiny in the Courts where unsuccessful tenderers can seek redress.  

The legal rules around public and utility procurement can be complex and difficult to implement in practice. They are also evolving with introduction of new legislation and national guidance and with the frequent decisions of national and EU Courts. It can be very difficult for buyers to keep up to date with best practice without support from specialists working in the area.

The public procurement market also provides significant opportunities for those wishing to carry out works or supply goods or services. It is important for bidders that they understand the nature of the procurement process and how best to utilise it to their advantage.

Eversheds Sutherland has a dedicated public procurement group with lawyers across Europe advising buyers and suppliers alike on the tendering process. This international network sets us apart from other Irish law firms and ensures that our specialist team is always up to date with relevant developments across the EU.

It is widely acknowledged by all independent directories, including Chambers & Partners, Legal 500 and Who’s Who Legal International, that our team in Ireland includes some of the leading procurement lawyers in this jurisdiction. We are known for providing pragmatic and commercially-focussed solutions to procurement problems based on our extensive experience of the law and practice in this area.

We work across a range of sectors including transport, health, waste, social housing, energy, technology and telecoms. Key examples of our recent work includes:

  • Advising the Office of Government Procurement, the largest central purchasing body in Ireland, on the procurement of numerous frameworks and contracts
  • Advising the National Development Finance Agency on the procurement of various major PPP projects
  • Advising various Government Departments on the procurement of major broadband projects in Ireland and Northern Ireland
  • Advising EirGrid and Réseau de Transport d’Electricité on their ongoing, joint procurement of the Celtic Interconnector, a €1bn electricity connection between Ireland and France
  • Advising Vinci and Abtran on their successful joint bid to provide electronic tolling services on the M50, Ireland’s busiest motorway
  • Advising a leading international inspection services company on its bid for the National Vehicle Testing Contract in Ireland. 

Our experience of procurement dispute resolution is very strong across all of our European offices and our lawyers have acted in several of the leading cases in this area, including before the Irish and Northern Irish Courts.

We engage at a policy level with the relevant agencies in Ireland and Brussels on Public Procurement issues and we regularly produce client briefings and host seminars on topics of interest for procurement practitioners.

Whether you are a public sector / utility buyer seeking to procure in a way which is smart, legally compliant and designed to lead to the best possible solution, or a bidder for a public contract looking for assistance in navigating your way through the tender process and maximising your chances of success, we would be delighted to hear from you.

Peter Curran and Aine Smith recently contributed the Irish chapter on public procurement in the 2018 edition of Getting the Deal Through. Click here to read the chapter. (Accreditation: Reproduced with permission from Law Business Research Ltd. This article was first published in Getting the Deal Through – Public Procurement 2018 (Published: July 2018). For further information please visit www.gettingthedealthrough.com.)

Peter Curran and Aine Smith have contributed the Law & Practice section of the Chambers Public Procurement and Government Contracts 2019 Guide. To read this section, please view it here.