The government has recognised the ever-growing importance of e-disclosure and launched a £7m tender to appoint up to five e-disclosure providers to service the whole of the UK public sector.
The three-year contract – extendable by a further year – will cover central government departments and their arm’s length bodies and agencies, non-departmental public bodies, NHS bodies, local authorities and other public sector organisations, such as the BBC and Royal Mail.
The Government Procurement Service is seeking suppliers who can provide a full suite of services in support of e-disclosure exercises – including hard-copy document/non-electronic document review and scanning – conducted in the course of litigation.
The tender notice says: “Although in most cases such services will be required in compliance with the provisions of part 31 to the CPR and practice directions 31A and 31B, similar services will also be required in respect of litigation before, among others, the Administrative Court (in the course of judicial reviews), other fora in the England and Wales (including inquests and a variety of civil tribunals), as well as national public inquiries.”
The move is the latest in the government’s efforts to centralise its purchase of legal services. There is already a framework agreement in place with multiple law firms to provide services across the public sector in eight areas of work, but this expires shortly and the government is currently considering tenders for the next two years, valued at up to £250m.
It has also recently run the first cross-government procurement exercise for law costs draftsman services, worth up to £20m over four years.