Hot on the heels of the orders issued by the Superintendent of Public Health on 13 March 2020 which were discussed here, the Department of Contracts, Malta's central government authority, has issued a circular to all contracting authorities on how public procurement is to be conducted in the coming weeks.

The main thrust of these directions is that the issue of public procurement procedures, their evaluation and their award are to continue as smoothly as possible without public officials meeting in person. This includes discussion on requests for clarifications, evaluation committee meetings and the signing of public contracts.

The Department of Contracts has also directed contracting authorities to accept certain documents, such as, bank guarantees, in electric format for the time being, with the original to follow in due course and once asked by the contracting authorities.

The Department of Contracts has also issued directions as to the wording on remedies to be included in the recommendation of award letter and rejection letters following the evaluation of a competitive tender procedure. The wording to be included explicitly instructs aggrieved bidders to file any letters of objection before the Public Contracts Review Board by way of e-mail and to pay the deposit fee by bank transfer. This has been discussed at length in our other note here.

The Department of Contracts is yet to address issues arising from the fact that decisions delivered by the Public Contracts Review Board after 24 February 2020 and during this time remain frozen in view of the wide scope of the orders issued by the Superintendent of Public Health.

You can find the circular here.

The situation will be monitored closely and will issue updates as the legal landscape develops.

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