27th September 2016
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Shetland Line loses £12 million ferry contract claim

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A Shetland firm has lost a £12 million claim against the Scottish government after it unsuccessfully bid for a contract to provide ferry services for the Northern Isles.

Shetland Line (1984) took part in the process to secure the work on the routes between mainland Scotland and Orkney and Shetland.

But ministers awarded the six-year contract to run up to March 2018 to rival bidder Serco Ltd.

Shetland Line raised a commercial action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh claiming there was a breach of public contract regulations and sued for £12,730,275.

But a judge today ruled that Shetland Line’s claim should be rejected. Lord Doherty said: “In my opinion there was no arbitrariness and no lack of transparency in the evaluation process.”

The judge said the firm in 2012 were unsuccessful bidders in the competition for the award of the contract.

He said: “(They) were dissatisfied with the public procurement process which resulted in the award.”

But the judge said that he was content that a panel had carefully examined the demand for freight identified in each of the bids and proposals made to meet demand.

Lord Doherty said: “The facts are that the pursuers’ (Shetland Line) bid was given a high score for services, and a high score for quality.

“Serco’s bid won because despite having lower scores than the pursuers for those matters it scored far better than them on price.”

The judge said there was nothing in material placed before him during the case that persuaded him that if a benchmarking process had been used the outcome would have been different.

Lord Doherty said he was not satisfied that the Scottish government had committed a breach of the regulations and said Shetland Line’s claim failed.

• For more see next week’s Shetland Times.