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Court of Appeal strikes out Sita UK appeal against GMWDA contract award

An appeal lodged by Sita UK against the High Court decision to strike out a £90m damage claim against the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) has also been struck out in the Court of Appeal.

Lord Justices Elias and Rimer and Lady Justice Arden concluded: “Sita’s claim has been brought out of time and there is no good reason to exercise any discretion to extend it. The appropriate course is therefore to strike out these proceedings.”

The appeal announcement follows an initial legal dispute, in which Sita UK sought £90m in damages against the GMWDA for the alleged loss of the opportunity for the Authority’s £3.8bn PFI contract, on the grounds that it breached public procurement regulations. The case was struck out by Mr Justice Mann in the High Court in 2010.

GMWDA chair Councillor Neil Swannick said: “We had a duty to robustly defend both the initial proceedings and the subsequent appeal in order to protect the public purse and recover the costs incurred.”

Sita UK’s counsel confirmed that it will not be petitioning the High Court, and an interim award of costs has been made to GMWDA.

A statement from Sita commented that the company was “very disappointed” with the decision that the legal action was launched too late.

It said: “We regret that the Court of Appeal was confined to deciding on the timing of our claim and not on its merits.”

“Our original decision to go to court was taken as a last resort, only after we were advised that we had obtained sufficient evidence to do so and only after we were absolutely certain that we were not bringing our claim wrongly or prematurely. Being a responsible company that has served the public sector for over 20 years, this was of paramount importance to us.

“Notwithstanding today’s decision, we wish to emphasise that SITA UK would only consider legal action for procurement breaches where the weight of evidence overwhelmingly supported it.  However, today’s decision could leave a negative legacy for others; the fear of bringing a claim too late might force others to bring legal proceedings prematurely.”

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