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EWC seeks to take Lancs CC to the Supreme Court in ongoing battle

Environmental Waste Controls (EWC) is seeking to take Lancashire County Council to the Supreme Court in its continued bid to seek damages after the council showed ‘inherent bias’ against smaller companies.

The ongoing battle between the north-west-based waste management company and the council appeared to have been settled in December 2010, when the Court of Appeal ruled in the council’s favour. Judges felt the council had done nothing wrong to award a waste management contract to Sita over EWC’s bid, saving the council from paying a multi-million-pound damages claim.

However, EWC hopes to now take the local authority to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the appeal Lancashire County Council made was on a point of law. The Appeal Court did not review the evidence provided in the initial claim at Manchester High Court where the Judge Hegarty ruled the council did show bias. Judge Hegarty had awarded EWC the right to sue the council for profits it would have made on a three-year contract.

Solicitor for EWC, partner at law firm Hill Dickinson LLP, Jonathan Berkson said: “This case raises an interesting issue as to how courts should deal with extraneous matters that come to the attention of decision makers. There is now a precedent set for accepting in all cases that decision makers on their say so are able to disregard irrelevant matters.

“In this case, Judge Hegarty was able to find that extraneous matters did subconsciously influence the decision maker, which provided an explanation for the decision made by Lancashire Council to reappoint Sita.”

EWC initially issued a High Court claim for damages in June 2009. It believed the local authority’s decision in choosing Sita was wrong, claiming its bid was £3.5m less than Sita’s.

EWC chairman Bill Edwards said: “It was an 18 month struggle and I was delighted at Judge Hegarty’s acknowledgement of the bias in the industry.

“I was disgusted at being told that the Court of Appeal overturned the decision without considering the evidence presented to the trial judge.”

The company hopes to draw attention to, what it claims is, an inherent bias to award contracts to larger contractors as part of council procurement processes.

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