High Court Endorses Approach To Evaluating Tenders Exceeding Permissible Word Limits

High Court endorses the Department for Public Expenditure and Reform's approach to evaluating tenders exceeding permissible word limits as "exceedingly fair" and summarises the legal principles applicable to (i) the information to be included in the letter of reasons and (ii) the evaluation of tenders by public bodies.


On 4 May 2018, in Word Perfect Translation Services Limited and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform [2018] IEHC 237, Barrett J. delivered judgment refusing the reliefs sought by Word Perfect Translation Services in its application to the High Court to set aside the decision of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to award a contract for translation services to translation.ie.


Barrett J. addressed the core arguments raised by Word Perfect, reasoning as follows.

In response to the claim that an error was made in the evaluation of the Service Delivery Plan (which was a core part of the documentation required as part of the tender process): Barrett J. noted that one of the four criteria to be assessed in the process was for "the methods employed to ensure that interpreters will retain their skills in the language and remain up to date with their practice and fluency to a sufficient standard to ensure effective delivery of the Service in all 4 language groups". The Court decided that this had not been adequately addressed by Word Perfect within the permitted word limits in its tender documents. A statement that interpreters would be retained as employees and that they would undergo CPD training, was not sufficient to fulfil the requirement. Furthermore, the tender evaluators were entitled to take an initial decision that the cut-off point for text was the stipulated word limit of 2,000 words and to exclude all text thereafter. Barrett J. determined the marks granted were perfectly justified. (para. 22) In response to the claim that there was a want of transparency in the increase of the marks awarded to translation.ie because the preferred bidder was initially allocated a mark of 225 (following the first evaluation) which was then increased to the maximum mark of 250 at the second evaluation meeting, the Court noted that the increase did not affect the category within which the preferred bidder fell- it just increased its marks within the "Excellent" category/band and the evaluators were entitled to come to this conclusion supported by a brief written note of points/ ideas...

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