De La Rue drops challenge to passport contract

Can't really say I am surprised by De La Rue's decision, but the motives are a joy to read:

"We've done our homework, we've taken legal advice, we've looked at, frankly, the likelihood of overturning the decision and the sensible thing for us to do is to refocus our efforts elsewhere and to move forward."

and

"Following four weeks of intense consideration and clear legal advice, we have taken the decision not to challenge the award of the UK passport contract."

Seriously, was that no evident already two weeks ago? Or was it all an outburst to be seen doing something?

Bonus points for burying the news of the profit warning with the announcement of dropping the challenge. It will be interesting to see if the "profit warning should lead to lost contracts" brigade which sprung after Carillion's demise will be calling for their pound of flesh of De La Rue now.   

Timely reminder that EU public procurement remedies are still in force in the UK

Building upon two week's ago decision to award the first post-Brexit UK passports to an Franco-Dutch (Dutch-French?) company, it seems De La Rue is initiating proceedings to get the award decision reviewed.

This is yet another timely reminder EU law is still applicable in the UK since the Public Contracts (Amendment) Regulations 2009 tranpose Directive 2007/66/EC.

As for the grounds from De La Rue, based on the public reports, it seems they are either keeping their powder dry or do not have much to argue. Making generic comments such as the award price was below their cost price does not indicate any wrongdoing - only that they were not competitive enough. Even if there is an abnormally low bid, all the Home Office needs to do is investigate it and is under no obligation to exclude Gemalto.

This all reminds me of a tender I was once involved on the public side with a former colleague as legal adviser for one of the tenderers. After the result was announced he retorted to a common friend "How do I set aside the other 4 bids? Thanks for screwing my weekend!"

PS: I love De La Rue's assertion their new price is lower than that of the old contract, begging the question if they suddenly became very efficient or if they have been extracting rent since 2009. And let's not forget what 3M who lost the contract back then had to say.

PS2: As for the logic of tendering 10/11 year bog standard supply contracts, it defies me still especially with the assertion by De La Rue they were cheaper this time around than in 2009.

Timely reminder public procurement rules still apply in the UK

It seems Gemalto, a French company has won the contract to produce the UK passports post-Brexit. FT has the scoop:


"Gemalto, a security company based in Paris, is expected to win a tender process ahead of the UK’s De La Rue, one person briefed on the decision said. De La Rue currently holds the contract for producing UK passports, worth £490m over 10 years.

Both the Sun and Daily Telegraph newspapers reported the news on Wednesday evening. Bill Cash, a pro-Brexit MP, said the decision was “incongruous to say the least” and “symbolically completely wrong”.

“The irony is unreal,” said Eloise Todd, chief executive of Best for Britain, the anti-Brexit campaign group.

The Home Office said the procurement process was ongoing, adding: “We do not require passports to be manufactured in the UK. A proportion of blank passport books are currently manufactured overseas, and there are no security or operational reasons why this would not continue.” "

While the UK is inside the EU (transition included) EU public procurement rules and general principles remain applicable. And there's no irony in that.