Judge rules there were errors in procurement process for York Street road improvement
A senior judge has ruled that there were errors in the procurement process for a multi-million pound roads project in Belfast.
The York Street Interchange project is aimed at easing traffic congestion between the Westlink and both the M2 and M3 - one of Northern Ireland's busiest junctions.
However, the project is now facing further delays as another court hearing has been listed to take place next month.
Last summer the Department of Infrastructure announced the tender process to appoint a contractor for the scheme had been completed, but said the tender award could not proceed at that point due to a legal challenge.
This challenge was mounted in the High Court in a joint application made by 'plaintiffs' BAM Civil Ltd and FP McCann on the grounds the procurement process which led to a rival contractor securing the contract was flawed.
The legal bid was heard earlier this year, and yesterday Mr Justice Maguire ruled there were errors in the procurement process.
It emerged that while BAM Limited and FP McCann has the best price, they lost out on the quality assessment.
In his ruling, Mr Justice Maguire revealed the tender evaluation panel concluded BAM Limited and FP McCann had not understood the "unique nature of the contract" and had not provided enough detail about phasing of work.
However, the Judge ruled the panel was "manifestly in error" to conclude BAM Limited and FP McCann had not understood the project, adding the panel was not transparent enough about the amount of detail it was anticipating on the phasing of the works.
The cost of the scheme - believed to be in the region of between £130m and £165m - is aimed at tackling congestion at the intersection at York Street, and is one of the projects set to benefit from a £1bn package of spending between the DUP and the Conservative Party.
After giving his ruling on the flawed procurement process, Mr Justice Maguire said he was giving all concerned parties time to consider his judgement, and said he was listing the case again on September 6th.
At this stage, it is not yet known whether the procurement process will be re-run.
Roads expert Wesley Johnston said the ruling was "embarrassing" for the department:
York St ruling disappointing and also embarrassing for @deptinfra Shame as it was one of the only schemes here that could still proceed without there being a Minister.— Wesley Johnston (@niroads) August 8, 2018