Public Procurement Challenges

Service overview: Solicitors for public procurement challenges

  • Our public procurement law solicitors represent a broad range of clients drawn from both the public and private sectors. We work closely with clients to help them avoid, resolve and litigate high value, complex procurement disputes.
  • For public bodies, compliance with public procurement law is key. We help ensure bidding processes are transparent, bidders are treated equally and without discrimination, and decisions are taken in a proportionate manner.
  • We work with bidders, from SMEs to large multinationals, at all stages of the tender process. We develop procurement strategies, help bolster bid applications with our sector-specific knowledge and challenge potentially unfair tender processes when appropriate. We also advise bidders that have failed to qualify for a public procurement.
  • We take the long view. Sometimes unsuccessful bidders don’t want to mount a formal challenge. They just want clear feedback on why a particular bid failed. We work with public bodies to provide compliant feedback, and help bidders seek clarification and feedback whilst maintaining a positive ongoing relationship with the body concerned.

What we do: Solicitors for challenging procurement awards

Our clients know that challenges to a tendering process are expensive. They drain valuable resources. Disputes can also significantly threaten an organisation’s reputation. That’s why timely advice from specialists in procurement challenges is essential. At Harper James we have a dedicated team of public sector lawyers, and dispute resolution solicitors specialising in public procurement challenges. We’ll defend or challenge decisions robustly when it’s the commercially sensible thing to do. But our advice is realistic and our approach practical. Not every failure to win a bid should be disputed. Nor should awarding bodies necessarily be advised to defend a challenge to a flawed public procurement process.

We provide a comprehensive service to public bodies and private companies defending and pursuing challenges to a tendering process or outcome. There is a 30-day time limit in bringing a challenge. The clock often starts to run once a discrepancy in a tender document is noticed, not when a decision on a successful bidder has been made. It’s crucial therefore to act quickly. Our work covers:

  • Commencing a challenge when a bidder believes the procurement process does not comply with public procurement law
  • Advising bidders that have been unsuccessful in qualifying for the procurement process
  • Advising on the appropriateness of a standstill challenge following receipt of the standstill letter from the awarding authority (that is, the letter informing a bidder of its unsuccessful bid)
  • Advising public bodies and other contracting authorities facing challenges to a tender process that they have carried out.

Typical contract award and challenges we have been involved in include:

  • Challenging an unwillingness to accept late bids caused by IT errors in the relevant procurement portal
  • Instances of mathematical errors in the scoring criteria/methodology and/or evaluation
  • Occasions when more time was spent with one bidder over others
  • A client being scored down for something not mentioned in the evaluation criteria
  • Where an awarding authority unlawfully favoured the incumbent
  • An unreasonable insistence on local presence and/or capability
  • Challenges to decisions to abandon procurements and associated judicial reviews
  • Cases of non-compliant assessment and evaluation criteria

Who we help: Public bodies and private businesses seeking advice on public procurement law

We advise a wide variety of public body clients from government departments and local councils to NHS tendering groups and institutional governing bodies.

We also assist private sector companies in a diverse range of industries and sectors in relation to contract awards and challenges. Our procurement challenge solicitors have recently advised companies in the following industries:

  • Transport and logistics
  • IT and telecommunications
  • Waste and recycling
  • Construction
  • Charities
  • Health and pharmaceuticals
  • Aviation

Why use our procurement dispute resolution solicitors?

Our lead public procurement challenge solicitor is Mark Gudgeon. Mark acts on numerous high value and complex public procurement challenges, some of which have been high profile. He acts for both the private and public sector. Clients have remarked on Mark’s ability to get to grips quickly with the detail of a procurement challenge, his extreme professionalism, value and responsiveness. Find out more about Mark and his expertise here.

Clients trust us because our solicitors have regularly acted for both public sector tendering bodies as well as bidders. We therefore understand every angle and intricacy of the tendering process. To avoid challenges we spot the pitfalls for local government and other public bodies engaged in running a tender process. Similarly we identify irregularities that can optimise the chances of a successful challenge to procurement processes.

Where possible we will use effective procurement dispute resolution methods to avoid full-blown litigation.

Pricing plans

Our three transparent pricing packages are designed to give you the widest possible access to high-quality legal advice, whatever the size and nature of your business:


Straightforward access to senior solicitors at a competitive rate.

An affordable solution for businesses needing one-off legal support. Receive ‘City’ partner-level expertise at a fraction of ‘City’ prices.


Have legal peace of mind for £189 per month with additional support from £125 per hour.

A monthly subscription legal support package specifically designed for start-ups and smaller businesses.


Providing you with priority access to a dedicated panel of highly experienced solicitors.

Fully account managed quarterly subscription service for businesses with more complex legal needs.

What our clients say

We pride ourselves on delivering an excellent service for clients, but don’t just take our word for it.

What next?

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A national law firm

We mainly work remotely, so we can work with you wherever you are. But we can arrange face-to-face meeting at our offices or a location of your choosing.

Our commercial lawyers are based in or close to major cities across the UK, providing expert legal advice to clients both locally and nationally.

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