Judge explains Merseyside waste injunction decision


The judge that granted an injunction against Merseyside Waste Disposal Authority’s (MWDA) decision to hand a contract to SITA UK has published the reasons for his decision.

Mr Justice Coulson’s written judgment on his decision comes after he granted an injunction against MWDA entering into its contract with the SITA-led consortium until there was a trial of Covanta’s claim that the procurement process was legally flawed.


In MWDA’s tender analysis for the financial criteria, which accounted for 40 per cent of the total score, Covanta received 17.85 per cent compared to SITA’s 11.33 per cent.

But Covanta received 0 per cent under both the legal and contractual and overall integrity criteria.

In its Particulars of Claim, Covanta raises a number of concerns relating to the evaluation process and alleges manifest errors occurred in the scoring of the tender and that, during six years of competitive dialogue, MWDA failed to inform Covanta that important aspects of its tender were fundamentally unacceptable in breach of its duty to act transparently.

In the judgment, Mr Justice Coulson wrote: “It may seem at first sight, a curious result that six years of procurement process (including two and a half years of intensive dialogue between authority and tenderer) can lead to the authority’s rejection of important aspects of that tender in so firm a manner as occurred here. That suggests that something, somewhere, went very wrong with the tender process.”

He also confirmed that a trial was required to work out whether “Covanta were materially misled by MWDA or whether, conversely, MWDA were making it plain what they wanted and how they expected Covanta to react”.

The judge noted that a further delay of nine months to hear the trial would be “modest” when set against the delays so far of six years and a plant lifetime of 30 to 35 years.