JUVE Law Firm of the year

Public Procurement

Amendment to public procurement law boosts demand for advice

The time has come: the new public procurement law is in effect. Structurally, the reform turned everything on its head, but in terms of content it is first and foremost the details that have changed. For instance, the law clarifies the criteria for intermunicipal cooperation, a topic of particular relevance in the waste disposal sector. Another important change is the end of the prioritizing of open over restricted procurement procedures. Experts, however, disagree as to how well this will be accepted: while some see extensive opportunities in restricted procedures, others consider them a marginal phenomenon that will attract little interest. Meanwhile, the gradual changeover to electronic procurement remains one of the biggest challenges posed by the new law, and not only in a technical respect.

Clients are seeking advice from their go-to firms on the structural changes in public procurement. The public procurement lawyers themselves often find themselves crossing paths at seminars – the majority are acquiring the title of “Fachanwalt”, or specialist lawyer, which was introduced last year. Even though some claim the title is unnecessary, many still see it as a good opportunity to get to grips with the public procurement amendment and, at the same time, acquire the certificate that some contracting authorities have long been demanding.

Public procurement lawyers fight for their spots in large firms

The most relevant event this year in terms of staff was the spinoff of the entire public procurement team from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, after the extremely renowned partner Dr. Hans-Joachim Prieß reached the firm’s age limit. But despite FBD’s well-known strategy of focusing on its core fields, the consequences of the Blomstein spinoff were surprising for many. In any case, it demonstrated that public procurement teams in large firms are under huge pressure to make returns and only stand a chance if they include standout personalities or if they strengthen their ties with other practices, as the concept pursued by Linklaters and Hogan Lovells shows.

However, if the Federal Ministry of Transport’s spring 2016 procurement of consulting work concerning the truck toll shows anything, it is that, for these teams, the conditions – even in attractive instructions – are getting tougher. This high-volume, prestigious instruction was won by neither a large firm nor a specialist boutique: instead, PricewaterhouseCoopers Legal made the grade. Competitors openly admit that this is a good example of how at least one of the legal advisory arms of the Big Four is no longer using prices to push its way into public sector instructions; rather, the team won the instruction on merit. Similar firms, like KPMG Law, will attempt to follow suit.

The German armed forces reshuffles its panel

The changes in public bodies’ hiring practices are currently evident in the procurement processes of the German armed forces. Since the winds of change have been blowing in the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Defense, panels here have been reshuffled too. Given the volume of defense projects, this contracting authority is an especially attractive client for law firms – but also a discerning one, who demands innovative concepts from its advisors to help it avoid costly bad investments.

 


 

Firms which are active in public procurement issues for contracting authorities and/or bidders are dealt with in this chapter. Many lawyers have a background in the construction industry, where public procurement has traditionally played an important role in contracts for public authorities. Others derive their expertise from a specialization in public law or in certain regulated sectors, especially the water/waste sector. Useful chapters for further reading include ?real estate, ?construction, ?environmental and planning law and ?regulated industries.


PfeilJUVE Law Firm of the year