When governments and financial institutions allow for large project bids, this is known as tendering. The process usually involves a set deadline, and that means the ticking clock that is Brexit is going to play a large part in the tendering processes of interested parties in the UK. Tendering is also often used to describe the process that occurs when shareholders decide to submit their shares (or their securities) as the result of any form of takeover offer. Again, as this will often require a finite deadline, Brexit is a factor that will have a noticeable impact. Although the confusion over Brexit means that much of the future of the tendering is clouded in mystery, some obvious issues will need to be addressed.
As the UK looks more likely than ever to be aiming for a no-deal Brexit, this is going to have an inevitable impact on the way that public sector procurements will be announced and advertised. This will make finding those procurements more challenging. Although no set guidelines have been specifically created by the government, this is what is currently known:
- Current status: All procurement regulations are currently standardised. When public sector procurements over a set threshold become available, then they are legally obliged to be published in the Official Journal of the EU (OJEU). For those below the EU threshold, UK guidelines state that they must be viewable on the government website Contracts Finder. This does vary on-site, so may mean searching the Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish, and MoD sites. Thresholds are also in place for each of these bodies.
- No-deal: As things currently stand, the UK has announced that even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the rules for procurement will not be overly different. The main difference is that rather than seeking out new opportunities through the OJEU, there will now be an e-notification service for UK tenders. E-tendering is not new and is a tender writing process that comes with a variety of pros and cons. However, this new e-notification service is, as yet, unavailable, so it is unclear how efficient the system will be.
Tender Searching after Brexit
Should the UK go through with a no-deal departure from the EU, then you will be required to make use of the new e-notification system. It’s important to note that you will still be able to find opportunities in the EU using the OJEU. However, you will be considered to have the same status as those companies that have origins in countries without clear EU procurement arrangements in place. There is a very real concern that this will hinder UK opportunities for procurement.
Note: If you find a tender through the OJEU and a no-deal Brexit goes ahead before the completion date, then it is currently unclear what will happen. However, the new e-notification system will be a source of information. It’s worth knowing that if you find a tender via the OJEU but use a different procurement portal or mechanism then you will, in theory, face no issues even in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
As of writing, the UK remains a part of the EU. On the 31st of October, there’s a high possibility that the UK will break away from the EU with a no-deal policy in place. How this will affect procurement in the long term, and how effective the new e-notification system will be, has yet to be clarified.