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Amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015)

Amendments to the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR 2015) come into force on Monday 18th April. Some of the key changes are as follows:

 

  • Regulation 57 (Exclusion Criteria) is amended so that an offence under section 2 or 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 becomes a mandatory exclusion offence. We understand from the Crown Commercial Service that it intends release a new standard form PQQ plus guidance that will include this new ground (and that it will also include amendments to reflect the fact that the European Single Procurement Document is now in force; see article here for more on the ESPD);
  • Duration of Exclusions for tax offences - Regulation 57(11) used to impose a 5-year exclusion period where there was a mandatory exclusion for an offence of non-payment of taxes and a 3 year period of exclusion where discretion to exclude was exercised in relation to a lower level breach. Although there remains an obligation to exclude where this kind of offence has been committed and discretion to exclude for lower level breaches, the “5 year/3 year” period appears to have been removed for these particular exclusion grounds;
  • Permitted modifications - Regulation 72(1)(b) is amended so that, to fall within this safe harbour, you need to demonstrate that additional works/services/supplies are required, the that the value change is less than 50%, and that the contractor cannot be changed because (1) there are economic and technical reasons (e.g. interoperability with existing equipment/services) AND (2) changing the contractor would cause significant inconvenience or substantial duplication of costs. The “and” underlined here reads “or” in the current version of the PCR 2015 – so this safe harbour has narrowed significantly in scope from what is currently stated on the face of the regulations. However, the change has been made to reflect the fact that the parent Directive also uses “and” rather than “or”; our advice has been and continues to be that contracting authorities should assume that “and” is correct; and
  • Permitted modifications (2) – we already have had the Edenred case and guidance from the CCS which tells us that we must apply Regulation 72 to modifications proposed after 26 February 2015, even where the original contract is governed by the 2006 Regulations, and that the Regulation 73(3) termination rights are to be implied in this situation as well. Regulation 118(5) of the PCR 2015 will now states this expressly, which provides some useful clarity on the position.

 

From Monday 18th when you refer to PCR 2015 you need to ensure your references are PCR 2015 (as amended).