Charles Béar QC (instructed by DAC Beachcroft) successfully represented the NHS in resisting a judicial review challenge raising important new issues for the public sector.  The challenge was brought by the trade union Unison to the decision of 10 primary care trusts, covering most of South West England, to outsource administrative functions to a private contractor.

Unison alleged that the proposed outsourcing would breach European public procurement rules.  This was the first such claim by a trade union under those rules.

On a hearing to determine preliminary issues, Mr Justice Eady ([2012] EWHC 624 (Admin)) ruled that the trade union lacked standing to bring this claim.

He also accepted the trusts’ case that the relevant decision had been taken more than 3 months before the claim was commenced, and rejected the union’s argument that because no contract had yet been entered into, time had not started to run.  Finally he held that to allow the proceedings to go ahead would be detrimental to good administration.  An enquiry into damages sustained by the NHS as a result of the delay caused by the proceedings was ordered and the union ordered to pay full costs.