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Brexit latest: No Deal Brexit and Procurement Legislation

Posted On: 10th October 2019

With the Government maintaining that the UK with leave the EU on 31 October, whether or not a Withdrawal Agreement has been finalised, there may appear to be much uncertainty as to the position of legislation after that date, and what immediate effect that will have on trade and other areas of business. However, in procurement as well as in other areas, there are some clear guidelines as to what a ‘no deal Brexit’ would mean for day-to-day working practices. Here, Phillip Kinnell, Senior Procurement Consultant at the Procurement Advice and Support Service (PASS), details what we know about procurement legislation in the event of ‘no deal’ – in our explainer below and in our recent webinar.

Legislative certainty in the event of a no deal Brexit

What procurement legislation applies in the event of a ‘hard’ Brexit? Section 2(1) of the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 states that ‘EU-derived domestic legislation, as it has effect in domestic law immediately before exit day, continues to have effect in domestic law on and after exit day.’ Section 3(1) similarly confirms the incorporation of direct EU legislation by stating that ‘Direct EU legislation, so far as operative immediately before exit day, forms part of domestic law on and after exit day.’ 

However, there are some incongruities between current legislation, such as the PCR 2015, and the changed environment that we will have following a no deal Brexit. To deal with this, the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 preserves laws made in the UK that implement EU obligations, and provides the legal basis for making necessary corrections to the current procurement legislation that would otherwise no longer operate appropriately once the UK has left. 

The following paragraphs outline the main pieces of secondary legislation which set out the updates to UK procurement legislation.  

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Public Procurement (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 and the Public Procurement (Amendment etc) (EU Exit) (No 2) Regulations 2019 set out the majority of changes to current procurement legislation in the event of a hard Brexit. 

In Scotland, the Public Procurement etc (Scotland) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019, the Public Procurement etc (Scotland) (Amendment) (EU Exit) Amendment Regulations 2019 and the Public Procurement etc. (Miscellaneous Amendments) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 carry out a very similar role.  

The required changes include the removal of references to the EU, the replacement of the OJEU with the ‘UK e-notification service’ (also known as the Find a Tender Service or FTS) and the right of the UK to set the procurement thresholds for the forthcoming change on 1 January 2020. 

Eight months after Brexit, the amendment regulations also remove conditions relating to the GPA (Government Procurement Agreement) and the ‘duty owed to economic operators from other member states’ as from that point the requirement to open up procurement in the UK to economic operators from other states will either not apply or will have be applied separately through a trade or other similar agreement. 

The Defence Regulations will be updated with the Defence and Security Public Contracts (Amendment) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 which will bring in both pre-exit and exit-related amendments to the Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011. So while it’s not possible, or advisable, to cover all the changes here, I hope that the above links will help you determine how a no deal Brexit will affect any procurements that are commenced after a no deal Brexit. 

You can here Phillip discuss this and other aspects of post-Brexit procurement in more detail through a recording of our recent webinar, ‘What a No Deal Brexit would Mean for Public Sector Procurement.’ To view the full video, click here.