Legal Protection in Public Procurement Proceedings
The new Public Procurements Act, which was implemented on April 1, 2001, introduced a new procedure for resolving disputes concerning public tenders. The Constitution of Estonia states that it must be possible to protect free competition and contest in the court of law the awarding of public tenders and orders. This protection must be efficient. National interests require that disputes in procurement matters are resolved as quickly as possible.
Legal protection provided in the earlier version of the Public Procurements Act that was adopted in 1995, was ineffective and regulated only out-of-court proceedings. The new act provides for a procedure to resolve the dispute at the Procurement Board or, if no agreement is achieved, in administrative court. Unfortunately, all bidders who participated in the tender are not involved in the agreement process and their interests are not protected in preliminary hearings. Since bidders who were not involved in the appeal process can dispute the new decision, there is the risk that the procurement process may actually be delayed. Therefore, the conceptual basis of the dispute process should be further revised.
In Estonia, resolution of public procurement tenders that are contested in court is in the competence of administrative courts. However, the new law does not contain any provisions enabling the speeding up of current proceedings. Ideas worth considering are how to simplify and speed up court proceedings.