Supreme Court to hear Minister’s appeal over interpreter contract
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear an appeal by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform over a decision overturning the award of a contract for supply of interpreters for the State’s immigration service and Legal Aid Board.
The appeal will address what criteria must be met before the courts can interfere with the award of a contract following a tender process governed by public procurement regulations.
The Minister had applied to the Supreme Court for leave to appeal a decision of the Court of Appeal last June on proceedings brought by Word Perfect Translation Services Ltd, which tendered unsuccessfully for the interpreters contract.
The contract was awarded to another firm, Forbidden City Ltd, trading as Translation.ie. Word Perfect, which supplied interpreters to State bodies over several years, lost out by some 15 marks out of a possible 1,000 and it made several complaints about how the tenders were evaluated.
The Court of Appeal found two “manifest errors” in the tender evaluation process left it with no option, particularly given the closeness of the contest, but to set aside the award of the contract.
The request for tenders for interpretation services was published in October 2015 by the Office of Government Procurement.
The Court of Appeal found that the evaluators committed one manifest error insofar as the quality assurance plan was concerned in wrongly treating Translation.ie as having supplied a “narrative” in the manner required by the tender when Translation.ie had not done so.