In a judgment handed down on 17 June 2020, Mr Justice Stuart Smith has rejected public procurement challenges by disqualified bidders for the South Eastern, East Midlands and West Coast lines in 2019 Rail Franchising Litigation.

Tetyana Nesterchuk and Niamh Cleary (led by Rhodri Thompson QC and Fionnuala McCredie QC) appeared on behalf of the Secretary of State, successfully defending the challenge.

The claims were brought by Arriva, Stagecoach, SNCF, Virgin and certain other associated companies, following their disqualification from the three competitions for failing to comply with the pension requirements of the procurement competitions.

Mr Justice Stuart-Smith rejected allegations that the Secretary of State for Transport acted in breach of the general principles of EU law (including proportionality, non-discrimination, transparency, equal treatment, the protection of legitimate expectations, the requirement to act without manifest error, and good administration), as well as the relevant public procurement regulations applicable to rail franchising,  in the three franchise competitions for the South Eastern, East Midlands and West Coast lines.

The proceedings comprised one of the largest and most complex public procurement claims litigated to date in the UK, involving claims by multiple bidders across the three franchises with each of the disqualified bidders seeking damages in excess of £100 million.

A copy of the judgment can be found here.