Losing bidder for library IT contract begins legal action

Losing bidder for library IT contract begins legal action

An unsuccessful tenderer for a multi-million euro computer system for the country's public libraries has sued over the awarding of the contract.

Innovative Interfaces Incorporated, which was unsuccessful in tendering for part of the contract, has also obtained an automatic suspension of the awarding of part of the contract pending the outcome of its legal proceedings which were entered into the Commercial Court on Monday.

Innovative is a California incorporated company which has more than 2,400 library systems installed in 66 countries. It opened an office in Dublin in 2012 and in 2015 won a contract here which it says merged 28 separate computer systems in operation in Irish public libraries into a single consortium system.

Last year the Local Government Management Agency invited new tenders. On March 5th last awarded the contract to Civica UK Ltd, which is a notice party in Innovative's case against the agency.

EU procurement regulations

Innovative seeks an order setting aside or permanently suspending the agency's decision and directing it to hold a new competition. It claims the decision was unlawful, infringes EU procurement regulations and is of no legal effect.

It says in applying the award criteria, the agency was in manifest error and/or irrational and/or flew in the face of fundamental reason and common sense. It was unlawful because it took into account irrelevant considerations, it is claimed.

Eileen Barrington SC, for the agency, said there was consent from Innovative to her side's application for admission of the case to the High Court's fast-track commercial list.

There was a dispute between the parties as to the value of the contract, which Ms Barrington said Innovative claimed was €7 million, but this matter related only to part of the contract. There was however no doubt the case was well over the €1 million threshold for entering cases into the Commercial Court, she said.

She also said that because there was an automatic suspension of the awarding of the contract once a legal challenge was begun, there was an urgency to having the case dealt with expeditiously.

Mr Justice David Barniville gave directions for the early hearing of the case and said he would hear next week applications relating to the removal of the automatic suspension unless the parties could come to an agreement in the meantime.

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