The Good Law Project and three cross-party MPs – Debbie Abrahams (Labour), Caroline Lucas (Green Party) and Layla Moran (Liberal Democrats) – have issued legal proceedings challenging the Government’s failure to publish details of contracts awarded in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic response.
The claimants accuse the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of a “widespread systemic failure” to comply with his duty under regulation 50 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 to publish, within 30 days, contract award notices.
The Government’s policy is to publish the contracts themselves as well, if they have a value of over £10,000, they said, adding that the Government was “routinely failing to do both”.
In their statement of facts and grounds the claimants said: “These obligations are of real importance in a democratic society in which Government is responsible to Parliament and to the public for its expenditure of, often very large sums, of public money.
“Without the transparency obligations imposed by law and policy on the Defendant, the ability of individual Members of Parliament (such as the Second to Fourth Claimants), civil society (the First Claimant), the public and economic operators who might have wished to bid for contracts awarded (both with, and more often in the context of COVID-19, without) an open and competitive tender process, to hold the Defendant to account is frustrated.”
The Good Law Project has instructed Adam Hundt and Ugo Hayter of Deighton Pierce Glynn, and Jason Coppel QC and Chris Knight of 11KBW Chambers.