Legal challenge underway to the main contract for York Street interchange in Belfast

The high court in Belfast

A LEGAL challenge to the main contract for a major roads project aimed at easing traffic congestion in Belfast is underway at the High Court.

Proceedings centre on the Department for Infrastructure's procurement procedure for the York Street Interchange.

Joint venture BAM Civil Ltd and FP McCann Ltd claim the process which led to a rival contractor being identified was unlawful.

The scheme, designed to transform traffic flow at the intersection of the Westlink, M2 and M3, is expected to cost up to £165m and take around three years to complete.

It was named as one of the projects set to benefit from a £1bn package of spending pledged to Northern Ireland under the DUP-Conservatives Westminster pact.

In June last year the Department announced the process to appoint a contractor had been completed.

But it said the tender award could not occur due to an ongoing legal challenge.

That lawsuit, brought by BAM McCann, has now reached court.

In a case being heard by Mr Justice Maguire, lawyers for the joint venture are seeking an order setting aside any proposed decision to award the contract.

A writ lodged as part of the action also alleges it amounted to unlawful breaches of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and duties of "equality, transparency and proportionality".

The Department is defending the claim brought against it.

The case continues.

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