Decisions of the jury in design contests under Reg. 82 Public Contracts Regulations 2015

Reg.82 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (PCR2015) transposes Art 82 of Directive 2014/24 concerning decisions of the jury in design contests. These rules aim to ensure the independence that reg.81(1) PCR2015 facilitates through the avoidance of conflicts of interest, as well as to make sure that deliberations and exchanges of information are recorded in an accurate manner (but this may not have been needed, as reg.22(10) PCR2015 and 84(7) to (9) also impose similar documentary obligations for oral exchanges of information).

Under reg.82 PCR2015, it is clear that the jury shall be autonomous in its decisions and opinions [reg.82(1)], that it shall examine the plans and projects submitted by the candidates anonymously and solely on the basis of the criteria indicated in the contest notice [reg.82(2)] and that anonymity shall be observed until the jury has reached its opinion or decision [reg.82(4)].

Moreover, the jury shall record its ranking of projects in a report, signed by its members, made according to the merits of each project, together with its remarks and any points that may need clarification [reg.82(3)]. In that regard, candidates may be invited, if need be, to answer questions that the jury has recorded in the minutes to clarify any aspect of the projects [reg.82(5)]. And, in such case, complete minutes shall be drawn up of the dialogue between jury members and candidates [reg.82(6)].

Once more, the trouble with reg.82 PCR2015 is not so much about what it regulates, but for what it fails to address. It is not clear how the jury needs to conduct its deliberations, or how should it adopt its decisions (consensus, open voting, secret voting, role of the president, etc). These are not issues for the Directive to regulate, but the PCR2015 could have made the lives of contracting authorities easier by providing a default procedure that avoided them having to reinvent the wheel every time they decide to run a design contest. Luckily, maybe, that is not a very frequent occurrence.