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Good news for public cooperation

1 July 2015

The decision of the Supreme Court published today in the Edenred case will be music to public bodies’ ears. For a lot of practitioners it is a slightly surprising decision but the fact that it has been made by the highest court in England gives it significant weight. It relates to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) arrangement between HM Treasury and National Savings and Investments to support the new Tax-free Childcare (TFC) scheme. NS&I have a contract with Atos for many of the back office services required. For the TFC scheme, the Atos contract had to be varied. In summary the Supreme Court held:

  • the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 shall apply to contracts awarded before that date when looking at whether there is a material variation to that contract
  • the variation to the Atos contract came within the information provided for and the upper financial limits in the OJEU notice meaning that it was not a material variation
  • the MOU was not a public contract that should have been advertised. It was a legitimate distribution of public functions at a central government level.

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