On 5 February 2024, the Department of Contracts issued guidelines to economic operators explaining recent changes to Malta's electronic public procurement system (ePPS).

If an economic operator challenges a procurement procedure before its closing date, the procurement procedure will be suspended and the status for that procurement procedure will be indicated as "Procurement Call Under Review" on ePPS. This means that the time-limit for the submission of bids will be suspended until the challenge is finally and definitively decided by the Public Contracts Review Board or the Court of Appeal, as the case may be.

Bids which may have been submitted by bidders will not be opened by the closing date for the submission of bids given the suspension.

While a public procurement procedure is under review, economic operators may still submit bids. They may also submit requests for clarification if the challenge is lodged before the deadline for the submission of clarifications.

Under Maltese public procurement law, an economic operator may challenge the procurement procedure and its conditions by filing an application before the Public Contracts Review Board. Once this application is filed, the procurement procedure is deemed to be suspended at law. This application may be filed within the first two-thirds of the period for the submission of bids and it may request:

  1. the setting-aside of decisions, including clauses contained in the procurement document, and clarification notes taken unlawfully or which are proven to be impossible to perform; or
  2. the determination of issues relating to the submission of an offer through the government's e-procurement platform;
  3. the removal of discriminatory technical, economic or financial specifications;
  4. the correction of errors or the removal of ambiguities in the procurement documentation;
  5. the cancellation of the procurement procedure where it is in violation of any law or is likely to violate a particular law if it is continued.

This change in Malta's ePPS is welcome. First, this change will ensure that all interested economic operators are informed that a challenge to the procurement procedure has been lodged. Second, contracting authorities do not need to extend the closing date for the submission of bids manually in case of a challenge.

You can find the Guidelines here.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.