Reg.93 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR2015) establishes special time limits for seeking a declaration of ineffectiveness. In this case, proceedings still need to be started within 30 days [reg.93(2)(a)], but the relevant time when the clock starts ticking changes (see below). In any event, though, proceedings must be started within 6 months beginning with the day after the date on which the contract was entered into [reg.93(2)(b)]. For these purposes, proceedings are to be regarded as started when the claim form is issued [reg.93(7) PCR2015].
Therefore, the general rule is that ineffectiveness can be sought up to 6 months after the contract was entered into, except in two specific cases in which potential claimants can be seen as possessing specific information that triggers their duty to start procedures within 30 days from the relevant fact.
The first case concerns procedures where a relevant contract award notice has been published in the Official Journal of the European Union, in which case the relevant date is the day after the date on which the notice was published [reg.93(3)]. For that purpose, a contract award notice is relevant if, and only if the contract was awarded without prior publication of a contract notice; and the contract award notice includes justification of the decision of the contracting authority to award the contract without prior publication of a contract notice [reg.93(4) PCR2015].
The second case concerns procedures where the contracting authority has informed the economic operator of the conclusion of the contract, and a summary of the relevant reasons, in which case the relevant date is the day after the date on which the economic operator was informed of the conclusion or, if later, was informed of a summary of the relevant reasons [reg.93(5)]. Such “relevant reasons” means the reasons which the economic operator would have been entitled to receive in response to a request under reg.55(2) PCR2015 [reg.93(6)].