Created: May 04, 2022 07:45
The government has decided to block a judicial review of how it signed a controversial deal without putting the contract out to tender.
The Department of Cabinet Office signed an agreement with Florida-based shipper Access USA through the Post Office in May 2021, promising Bermuda shoppers cheap rates for shipping goods from overseas.
But local couriers complained the deal was signed before a request for proposal was released inviting Bermuda-based shippers to submit bids.
In November, the Supreme Court allowed Bermudian shippers Mailboxes Unlimited to appeal the contract.
Mailboxes Unlimited had previously asked the government for details of the contract and argued that if a request for proposals had been issued it would have considered submitting a bid.
At a hearing yesterday, barrister Eugene Johnston, representing the Cabinet Minister, argued that the judicial review was issued in error.
Mr Johnston claimed that Mailboxes Unlimited did not have sufficient standing to seek reconsideration, and that he did so after the deadline had expired.
Mr Johnston told Puisne Judge Larry Mussenden the mailboxes had to show there had been a serious breach of the tendering process.
But he pointed out that if the company believed the tendering process was flawed, it could have lodged a complaint with the government’s director of procurement.
He also dismissed suggestions that Mailboxes would have won the contract had they submitted a bid. He claimed that the company did not have an online presence or a warehouse in the United States and therefore would not have succeeded.
And he also wondered if Mailboxes would have submitted a bid if they had known about the project.
He noted that when the government sent a request for information, the company did not respond.
He said: ‘If they object to government competing with private business, then why would they facilitate this?’
Peter Sanderson, the lawyer representing Mailboxes, acknowledged the company did not respond to a request for information – but stressed that an RFI had nothing to do with the bidding process.
He dismissed claims that Mailboxes could not submit a competitive bid, saying it had a warehouse in New Jersey and could have established an online presence very quickly.
He said: ‘Had there been an open process, the caller would most likely have made an offer.
Mr. Mussenden reserved judgment.