In this ThinkHouse Procurement Masterclass, Chris Brennan looks at the part of the public procurement regime which deals with changes to contracts during their lifetime: Regulation 72 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (as amended).

This is an area particularly fraught with difficulty. Regulation 72 leaves much room for doubt and differing interpretations as to precisely when modifications to public contracts require a fresh procurement, and when they do not.


Chris Brennan: Morning then everyone, thanks very much for joining, I am Chris Brennan, I lead Gowling WLG's UK procurement practice.

Thanks for joining this morning, happy Wednesday and today's masterclass is going to be about variations to contract with procurement law implications making changes to public contracts, specifically today as governed by Regulation 72 of the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 as amended.

On the 8 and 15 November, we will be running in person ThinkHouse Public Sector sessions and during those sessions we are hoping to be able to devote approximately half of the morning to the new Procurement Bill during which I will be tackling some of the implications of the Bill as it currently looks on procurement of contract variations but for now today, we are going to concentrate on the existing law specifically Regulation 72 and how that impacts on changes and variations to public contracts. So that is what today is about.

So without further ado let us get on with it.

So the whole area then around modifications to contracts already in train and how the procure regime affects and applies to that. Probably fair to say that this is an area of procurement law which has a somewhat chequered and troubled history to it. There are whole aspects of it which have never really been terribly clear. That was something which it was fair to say they were hoping would be cleared up or largely cleared up with the advent of Regulation 72 in the Public Contracts Regulations in 2015 when those were implemented, I think it has not actually happened, there is still quite a lot of lack of clarity around some of aspects of this area.

Not lease because there are still frankly omissions, which even the case law, which ordinarily might to go some way to plug in some of the gaps, has not completely addressed. And oddly enough we have not really seen that much in the way of cases on complaints and challenges to modifications to public contracts on the basis for example, that a modification, a variation which purports to be relying on Regulation 72 does not do so. It has been strangely quiet notwithstanding perhaps the lack of clarity that we see.

Now this area of procurement law all really, I suppose, had its genesis in the Press Text case, a lot of years ago now, an Austrian case, and that case started laying out some of the core principles around procurement law and contract variations which have found their way through into Regulation 72 but which as we will see later on, only actually account for a fairly small part of what is now Regulation 72.

So Regulation 72 then built on the Press Text principles and applied a generous amount of gold plating, a lot of extra content if you like building on the principles originally given by the Press Text case.

How does it do that? How does Regulation 72 actually work?

Well it works by setting out six circumstances, now these are often called safe harbours, for reasons, which we will see, where a public contract can be safely varied, safely modified, so as not to require a fresh competitive tender process. The rule is that where a modification falls outside one of those six safe harbours, it is to be regarded as a new contract therefore essentially requiring a new public procurement procedure.

Where one of the safe harbours does not apply or is not available, so in all other modifications a new procurement is going to be required and that specifically is a provision in itself that is Regulation 72(9). So this is why they are called safe harbours because in order to not to have to do a fresh procurement process on the modification, you need to be within one of the safe harbours.

There are a set of specific carve-outs which mean that no new procurement is necessary.

In this session, I am going to be presenting each safe harbour, so I will be describing what the safe harbour actually says and giving you some of our observations on each one. I am also going to be explaining a bit around what Regulation 72 does not do as well as what it does and will be describing some typical variation situations which Regulation 72 does not really tackle head on.

Those are situations where basically we get asked for a lot of our advice because clients, authorities, look at the regulations and say well you know that does not really help in this situation what do you think?

So we will be think about some of that as well.

And going to the end of this session, giving you just a minute or two pm the update of the current status of the Procurement Bill and if time allows, which hopefully it will today, I will pick up on any questions that you might have so if you do have any questions lease drop them to me in the Q&A box of the webinar and I will select one or two of those and pick them up if we have time. If we have no time, do not worry, it will be my intention to respond individually to each one offline in any event as have done previously.

Embarking on the six safe harbours and the first of the six, we start with Regulation 72(1)(a) and this allows to give us a safe harbour so no new procurement required, where we have got modifications which irrespective of their monetary value, have been provided for in the initial procurement documents in clear, precise and unequivocal review clauses which might include price revision causes or options, provided that such clauses do both of the following two things, not just one or the other it is both, they have got to do both:

  • State the scope and nature of the possible modifications or options as well as the conditions under which they may be used; and
  • Secondly, do not provide for modifications or options which even if they are all there and set out clear and precise, would alter the overall nature of the contract or the framework agreement in question.

Now you will have noticed that I am using red font for some of this and this is emphasis, it is where I am basically picking aspects of the regulation out and expanding or expatiating a bit upon them so I an using red for that purposes throughout this session.

So, okay, provided for in the initial procurement documents, this pre-supposes or appears to pre-suppose that the contract that we want to modify with our clear, precise and unequivocal review points had its original in a public procurement process because the regulation supposes that there were initial procurement documents. What if there were not? So what if there was not actually an initial competitive procurement process? What if the contract that we are not seeking to modify had its origins for example, in a direct award or in a transparency notice followed by a direct award?

That is a question which as far as we know has not ever really been answered in procurement case law or otherwise. That is the first observation.

The second one is, is exercising a pre-existing option for example an option to extend an existing contract really even a modification at all. If we have a contract which has always had in it an option to extend for example at the end of year three for a further two years, is that really even, are we even changing that contract or are we simply doing something which the contract as it stands, already allows. Is it actually a modification at all?

Well that perhaps is an arguable point. May be the argument that says that is a modification is the fact that Regulation 72(1)(a) appears to regard it as a modification by saying, which may include price revision clauses or options, so may be perhaps Regulation 72(1)(a) does regard a pre-existing option to extend as a modification. Bringing us therefore within the scope of Regulation 72(1)(a) and meaning that limb two has to apply and our option to extend cannot provide for modifications which would alter the overall nature of the contract otherwise we fall outside even despite the pre-existing option, perhaps then we fall outside the safe harbour. So it is an arguable point but it is perhaps one to be aware of.

Point number 3 on here, if so, is an existing option to extend the term let us say to twice the length of the current contract sufficient to alter the overall nature and again we are not really, anyone can be totally clear on that to alter the overall nature of the contract, good question.

As I have already said and this is point four here, note the twin requirements for the review clause as they have to hit both (i) and (ii) in order for it to be okay. And finally, the bit about the red section in bold italics, I have already alluded to this but just to reiterate, what is there was not actually an initial competitive procurement in the first place. Sometime for example, this happened a lot in the pandemic when a lot of contracts that had to be directly awarded to start with and then modified to cope with changes brought about as the pandemic dragged on so we might have to affectionately call this a 72 on top of a 32 situation or a modification on top of a direct award situation, Regulation 32 of the PCRs being of course the provision which allows direct awards in certain circumstances.

So where that situation applies does that simply rule out this safe harbour on a whim. Under the existing regime that is a difficult question. We will be seeing in November that that might actually be an easier question to answer under the new regime when the Procurement Bill is enacted but more on that later if time and definitely in November.

Second safe harbour then. Contracts may have been modified, this is in Regulation 72(1)(b). So 72(1)(b) is where we need to modify the contract to introduce additional work services or supplies from the original contractor which have become necessary, okay? The first point there. And were not included in the original procurement, okay, so maybe this red bit kind of perhaps starts to beg similar questions. But where a change of contractor first of all cannot be made for economical technical reasons such as – so a non-exhaustive list – requirements of interchangeability or interoperability with existing equipment, services or installations procured under the initial procurement, so again, potentially, a Regulation 72 on top of the 32 question coming through here again. And - and by the way this is an 'and' – it was mistakenly transposed from directive as 'or' in the PCRs in 2015 but then that was corrected by amending regulations shortly afterwards so it is now 'and' would cause significant inconvenience or substantial duplication of costs. So either significant inconvenience or substantial duplication of costs. I suspect that if it did both that would still be within too.

Big caveat to this one. In order to enjoy this safe harbour, any price increase, any contract value increase or increment must not exceed 50% of the value of the original contract.

So, some observations on this one then. First of all, if we are to rely for the purposes of particular modification on this safe harbour, 72(1)(b), then unlike 72(1)(a) we need to publish a modification notice in Find a Tender. Now, there is no prescribed timing requirement for when we need to do that under the regulation but best practice would certainly dictate that we ought to treat them like contract award notices and, in fact, for transparency's sake it probably make eminent sense to do both together and to post within 30 days after the variation takes effect.

Now, we would normally recommend also publishing a contract award notice alongside a modification notice. Now you might be thinking, "well, why on earth would we need to do that?" The reason is because of Regulation 93(3) of the Public Contracts Regulations which specifically deals with managing the risk of contract ineffectiveness and if you take as a premise the fact that ineffectiveness on an illegal modification might be a risk as well as being a risk in relation to an illegal direct award, Regulation 93(3) deals with the way in which contract award notices can be used to head off ineffectiveness risk, and Regulation 93(3) speaks of relevant contract award notices as notices which can address and mitigate against ineffectiveness risk. So why publish a contract award notice on a modification as well as a modification notice? It is specifically so that we can say that we have in place a relevant contract award notice specifically to deal with ineffectiveness risk. Now we have never seen any attempt at a legal challenge on a modification claiming ineffectiveness on the basis of there not being a relevant contract award notice. So it is belt and braces but it might happen, and where we are talking of two notices we would say, ordinarily, that the two may as well go out together.

So the bit about the initial procurement again in the bold italics, what if there was not actually an initial competitive procurement, so the 72 on top of a direct award situation, that comes up here again. Does it simply rule this safe harbour out? Again, we do not know and, again, we look forward to the enactment of the Procurement Bill which as we will see in November may actually help us in that situation by clarifying that.

Third safe harbour then. 72(1)(c). This safe harbour applies where all of the following conditions are fulfilled. First of all, we need to do a modification, we need to vary the contract because there are circumstances which a diligent contracting authority could not have foreseen. Secondly, the modification does not alter the overall nature of the contract, so an echo there from previous. Thirdly, any increase in price, again, echoing 72(1)(b), does not exceed 50% of the value of the original contract or framework.

Now, some observations on this.

Picking up the first red point. Foreseeability is measured objectively. This is not just a situation in which a set of circumstances which this particular contracting authority could not have foreseen. It goes wider than that; it is an objectively measureable criterion. We have to look at whether or not a diligent contracting authority could have foreseen it and, therefore, ask ourselves, even if this particular contracting authority or the contracting authority faced with having to do the modification could not have foreseen it, could a diligent contracting authority on an objective level have foreseen it.

The same considerations are in play around overall nature, not altering the overall nature of the contract, and that is a recurring theme really throughout Regulation 72. Urgency is not specifically cited as a requirement or feature of 72(1)(c), so urgency specifically. We can contrast that with Regulation 32(2)(c) which deals with cases of direct awards of new contracts in situations of extreme urgency which are brought about by circumstances which are neither attributable to the contracting authority nor foreseeable by it and, again, there is complication there because Regulation 32(2)(c) for direct awards is not objective, whereas Regulation 72(1)(c) does apply an objective standard: a diligent contracting authority rather than merely this contracting authority. So there is an odd contrast between the two here.

The fourth issue here, and I suppose this is an unasked question again in terms of case law I think. What is the relevant point in time for the non-foreseeability? Is it the time the contract was first signed? So at what point, at what stage does the need for the modification have to not have been foreseeable by a diligent contracting authority. What if, for example, the need for the change was not foreseeable back when the contract was signed but the authority did subsequently realise that a need for a change would come about but have still spent months and months deliberating on it and not got round to making it. What is the situation then? Does it taint the applicability of the safe harbour? We do not really know and 72(1)(c) does not really tell us, so there might be a bit of a judgement call to be made around that or perhaps a risk-based analysis, risk-based advice given in that situation.

So, for safe harbour, contracts may be modified here in accordance with Regulation 72(1)(d) and this is where a new contractor replaces the contractor to whom the authority had initially awarded the contract and where the change of contractor comes about as a consequence of one or the other of two things. So not both here, it is not an 'and', this is very definitely an 'or'. First of all, an unequivocal review course or option in conformity with Regulation 72(1)(a). So where you have got your clear, precise and unequivocal review clause which from the start envisages the advent of a new contractor and sets out, in accordance with 72(1)(a), the circumstances in which conditions under which that clause can be invoked and hits all those boxes in 72(1)(a), that is okay, or, as obviously very often happens, there is universal or partial succession into the position of the initial contractor following corporate restructuring, including – so this is a non-exhaustive list, it is an open list rather than a closed one – takeover, merger, acquisition or insolvency, of – actually, that probably would be better if it actually said 'by' rather than 'of' but the directive said 'of' so the regulations say 'of' - another economic operator that fulfils the criteria – this is where it starts getting interesting – for qualitative selection initially established, provided that this does not entail other substantial modifications to the contract and is not aimed at circumventing the application of the PCR.

So in (d) there is quite a lot of interesting stuff going on and swilling around here. As we will see, it gets really quite interesting.

First of all, the list of succession events, okay, as I have already pointed out, is not actually closed, it is an open list. So obviously there is a general guide in that red wording in (ii) above, but it is actually an open list. So it is corporate restructuring including – so it is any kind of corporate restructuring including but not presumably limited to takeover, merger, acquisition or insolvency by, we should say, another economic operator. So there is obviously an anti-avoidance provision which has to be heeded.

Next question, okay what about a share purchase, for example, of a contractor rather than purchase of assets undertaking goodwill et cetera. So a share purchase presumably means that the actual contractor will remain the contractor, it is just the ownership of that contractor will change and, again, there is potentially some analysis to be done in that situation around whether or not Regulation 72(1)(b) actually applies. So, for example, one might have to look here at whether or not a contractor in whom some or all of the shares have changed hands, whether this is universal or partial succession, for example, whether the contractor then continues to fulfil the criteria for qualitative selection, so one might need to look back at how its suitability was measured back at the pre-qualification stage and that, of course, in turn, pre-supposes that there was an initial procurement during which the criteria for qualitative selection were indeed assessed.

This brings us to point three here. What if there was not an initial procurement, so there were not any original selection criteria, there was not a pre-qualification stage, there was not an SQ, selection questionnaire. Does this, again, mean that we simply cannot rely on this safe harbour at all or does it not mean that. Again, this is something which hopefully is going to be clarified in the future.

The fifth safe harbour: modifications allowed without a fresh procurement where Regulation 72(1)(e) applies. This is perhaps the most interesting safe harbour of them all because this actually is the one that basically codifies the Pressetext decision from all those years ago, so it is almost as if the Pressetext decision started off as a little village which has now become subsumed into a much bigger city. So Pressetext really is preserved in 72(1)(e), so all of the rest of 72 is padding that has all been built up around it.

So 72(1)(e) applies where the modifications that we want to make irrespective of their value – okay, that potentially is quite handy, that feels generous – are not substantial within the meaning of paragraph 8. So the first point about 72(1)(e) is that it goes hand in hand with 72(8). So in my advice whenever I am advising on 72(1)(e), I always say, 72(1)(e)/ 72(8) because really the two have to be read hand in hand. A modification will – now this is where it gets a little bit confusing because it then flips to where the modification that we are looking at will be substantial. So it has to not hit any one of the following, because if it does hit any one or more of the following, it will be substantial, so it has to not hit any in order not to be substantial for the purposes of 72(1)(e). So will be substantial, says 72(8), where one or more of the following conditions is met.

First of all, the modification renders the contract or the framework agreement materially different in character from the one initially concluded. So this again is a little bit confusing because here the language used is 'materially different in character'. If we think back to 72(1)(a) and (c), there, in those regulations we were talking about altering the overall nature. So is materially different in character the same as altering the overall nature. Or is it not. Are these points little causes for confusion that we might want the Procurement Bill to pick up and correct for us or to clarify for us. So there is a question around that. Secondly, the modification introduces conditions which had they been part of the initial procurement procedure – so you can see again here what is coming, what if there was not an initial procurement procedure – would have allowed for the admission of a candidate, so would have altered the bidder line up, (ii) allowed for the acceptance of a different tender, so allowed somebody else winning, or – and again, that is an 'or' and not an 'and' – attracted additional participants to the procurement procedure.

Okay, so within that there are a series of alternative scenarios which could apply and would render the modification substantial.

Thirdly, modification changes the economic balance of the contract or the framework agreement in favour of the contractor in a manner which was not initially provided for in the initial contract or framework. So that is, I suppose, tantamount to making the contract, maybe on a macro-level, a better deal all round for the contractor than it had started off.

Fourthly, modification extends the scope of the contract or framework considerably. What exactly is the scope. Well, again, that might be something which the Bill, when it comes into law, will start to clarify for us. Considerably. What does that mean? Okay.

Finally, the fifth one in the list. A new contractor replaces the one to which the contracting authority had initially awarded the contract in cases other than those provided for in 72(1)(d). Right, so whenever we fall outside that open list in 72(1)(d), we are potentially into substantial modification territory. So there is quite a bit of navigation to be done around that in order to work out whether if we have got an accession, it is within 72(1)(d) or whether it is a substantial modification, therefore knocking out 72(1)(e).

Right. So some observations on 72(1)(e), and obviously I have gone over onto a second slide for this because there is quite a lot to say.

First of all, if any one of the situations in indent (ii) on the previous slide applies, then the variation will be substantial and this safe harbour simply will not be available. Another safe harbour, of course, might, in which case, great. But this one will not. Again, second point here, is this safe harbour unavailable if it was not in the initial procurement procedure. 72 on top of 32, that recurring theme. Thirdly, what about the economic balance shift. Can a variation still be substantial if it shifts the economic balance away from the contractor and towards the contracting authority. What if makes the contract a worse deal, as variations quite often do, for the contractor and a better deal for the contracting authority. The answer is yes because it could, depending on what the modification is, I suppose have affected the outcome had it been a feature of the original procurement. It might have led, for example, to the materiality factor in 72(8)(i), that first one applying. In other words, it could have led to more or other tenderers or to a different winner. So it is a question of having to look at the modification in question and working that out.

Also we have some caselaw postdating so the EU caselaw postdating the PCRs which confirm in fact the modification which resulted dispute settlements can be substantial. That is worth knowing as well. What does considerably mean indebt 4 where 72(8) talks of altering the scope of a contract considerably and in applying indent 5 this is the succession by another economic operator in circumstance other than those provided for by 72.1(d) should we apply the wider range of events remember that list in 72.1(d) is not an exhaustive list so how do we square this away with the fact that the list of events in 72.1(d) is not exhaustive should we interpret this by reference to the potentially wider range of accession events than the specific ones picked out expressly in 72.1(d). I suspect the answer is we should give it its wider interpretation and finally on this , as I have already noted, this actually is the limb of, it is the one limb of Regulation 72 which goes nearest to actually codifying the principles originally developed all those years ago by the Pressetext case in the European Courts of Justice.

OK sixth safe harbour, sixth modification safe harbour. 72.1(f) and again this is one which goes hand in hand with another part of Regulation 72 i.e. 72.5 so in my advice when I am referring to this I tend to write Regulation 72.1(f) /72.5 and this basically is what we might call a de Minimis modification provision really so 7.2 applies when we are dealing with really small modification and this applies by value so it applies whether value of the modification is below both not just one but has to be below both of the following values. First of all the relevant threshold mentioned in Regulation 5 so that is the procurement threshold for work services central, local or sub-central authorities or light touch services or supplies central or sub-central so the relevant procurement threshold for the contract in question and below 10% of the initial contract value for service and supply contracts and below 15% for the initial contract value for works contracts so here we have to sort of track through which of those baseline thresholds we are dealing with and work out whether we are central or sub-central and whether work supplies, services and it is 10% of its supplies and services and 15% of its works. All of that however is subject to our recurring sort of light motif if you like which is that once again, yet again the modification that we are dealing with cannot alter the overall nature of the contract or the framework. Now you might have thought that actually if it is a De Minimis modification in terms of its value it probably should not alter the overall nature that stands ought to stand to reason that it would not but you just never know because of course you have to look at subject matter, scope and so on an so forth. If you are swapping a contract with completely different services or supplies for example then it might so you can never really rule it out but perhaps the risk of a De Minimis modification actually altering the overall nature and scope overall nature should I say for the purposes of this are probably fairly small. We ought to think.

OK so one of my observations well l first of all the De Minimis safe harbour is it ought to be seen perhaps as a breath of fresh air after the complexities of some of the other safe harbours but remember as I said already that the value uplift has to be below both of these figures so it is a double baseline if you like. I have seen a number of occasions where authorities have been a bit confused and thought it is only one. It is not. It is both.

So having been through all of those safe harbours and left you hopefully with some interesting observations on them, just a few other points on this so these I suppose are cross-cutting points. First of all the rule for the reckoning the value shift on successive modifications does not just set out the six safe harbours and then move on to Reg 73. There is a bit more to Reg 72 yet. 72.2 for a start. The 50% uplift ceiling applies to the value of each modification. Successive modifications so if a contracting authority is thinking for a moment of making a whole lot of mini modifications for the purposes of getting round the PCRs and the need for a new procurement then think again because 72.2 prohibits that. 72 gives us specific carve-outs. Unless the modification is covered a new procurement will be required and that is Regulation 72.9. In order to protect against risk around modifications, we would generally tend to say consider at least think about the use of voluntary transparency notices or VET notices as they are sometimes known as a tactical alternative to contract award notices as I mentioned back at the start of the webinar. However contracts award notices might be preferable where at least 72.1(b) or 72.1(c) operates because of Regulation 93.3. If in doubt come and get more advice on that because it is a bit of a complicated area. However if we are thinking of using a transparency notice of any sort to deal with any perceived risk of challenge to a modification for example claim for an effectiveness as a result of making modification we have to remember that they have to contain sufficient detail to alert their readers to what is actually happening to the true nature of what is going on. We cannot simply use them as a fudge or as a way of winging it and hoping that challenge risk will go away. They do not really work like that. Have a look at the Fastweb case and more recently have a look at the Faraday against West Berkshire Council case for some salutary lessons on that. Now the relationship between modification notices. This is where 72.1(b) or (c) applies on the one hand and VETs and CANs on the other contributable notices on the other has never been particularly clear but what I mean by that is there is no express timing requirement for the publication of MOD notices unlike VETS which have to be published in order to do what they are intended to at least 10 days prior to award and contract award notices which can and must be published up to 30 days after award. Now VETs and CANs for transparency purposes are both basically intended to do the same thing or a very similar thing. They operate in slightly different ways. You should never need both the voluntary transparency notice and the contract award notice in relation to the same award. It is really a choice of one or the other but depending on the precise set of circumstances there can be advantages or disadvantages to one or the other.

Do authorities try to well fudge it with the contract award notices? Well yes I am sure. We often see voluntary transparency notices issued for variations as well as modification notices. Do modifications perhaps modifications that do not fall squarely within one of the safe harbours ever? Are they ever done? Do they ever fall under the radar? Do they ever escape legal challenge by virtue of the fact that they have happened under the radar. Well of course I am sure they do but we just have to be aware I think of the fact that Regulation 72 is quite prescriptive. It specifically operates by giving a safe harbour, we have to remember what the risks are if technically they are contract the variation does not fall within one of the safe harbours.

The same rules apply to variations to call off contracts under frameworks and analogous rules apply where the contract terms which are provided by a framework are then modified before a call off contract is awarded so we have to obviously bear all that in mind.

Similar rules now technically Regulation 72 but obviously rules along very, very similar lines also apply where terms are substantially altered with the preferred bidder in a procurement prior to the contact actually being signed at the end of the procurement and also during a procurement which is in mid process but before a winner is selected so there are similar rules in effect I suppose but they tend to be founded on caselaw at the moment and the bill is going to alter that but are kind of similar in principle to the ones we see around Regulation 72 so be careful with those as well.

In the procurement bill which we will pick up as I said more in November than now there are actually be two sections rather than one. Remember it is Regulation 72 dealing with contract modifications. In the procurement bill we have section 31 clause 31 modification of competitively procured contracts during the procurement procedure OK so that will introduce a system of regulation of changes at a point in the procurement which are not specifically covered at the moment and section 69 clause 69 of the bill modification of contracts which are in course. This will introduce a new concept of convertible contracts that is contracts which were not or did not start off as public contracts maybe because they were perhaps below the threshold but will become public contracts as a result of the modification that is made and again that fills a gap which is currently there. Section 69 is broadly or clause 69 as it currently stands in the bill is broadly aligned with Regulation 72. The ordering is rather different. It is also schedule 8 which sets out lots of sets of circumstances which are effective I suppose essential safe harbours. Their ordering is different and more logical and there are also other subtle differences and additions so for example the need to make modifications for the preservation of life. I am sure that has come about as a result of the pandemic. More on that though in our November sessions where we are going to majoring much more heavily on the bill and that will pick up the proposed rules on modifications to contracts.

Just on the bill then the current status of the bill is that it is at committee stage in the House of Lords. As far as I am aware that stage is supposed to be ending if not today at least now very soon. Then it will move on to the report stage in the third reading at the House of Lords and then it is going to start its passage through the House of Commons. Now there are a lot of actually I think I drafted these slides originally when there were still only a few amendments. That should say a lot of amendments because there are now a lot but there are about 500 from the Government alone made so far during the House of Lords stages and we have to look at the Keeling schedules which are on the website on the procurement bill page if we want to see them in context of the proposed act and its schedules.

Timeline when it is as well that we have majored in Reg 72 today because for the moment and possibly for up to another year or so Reg 72 is still going to represent the law on modifications. The bill will not be enacted until probably mid to late 2023. We are still not certain on precisely the timing. However there will be six months' notice given before the Act comes into force.

Now with that I was going to go to the Q&A. I can see that there have been questions dropped into the Q&A box as we have been going along. We have only a couple of minutes left now so in fact what I am probably going to do for the sake of time is to tackle the questions offline. Hopefully that is OK but we will get round to answering those pretty quickly afterwards so on that basis, I think I am going to say cheerio now. Obviously if you have got questions for me which occur to you after the session just please drop those to us or to me. You can see my email address on the website or get in contact and again we will pick those up afterwards.

So thanks very much indeed for attending everyone and I hope to see you all again very, very soon and do please sign up if you have not already to our November sessions because I am sure I will find them stimulating and enjoyable and hopefully not too boring given the fact that we are actually thinking of devoting a good chunk of each to the procurement bill. That is 8 November in Birmingham, 15 November in London. Hope to see as many of you as possible there very soon. Thanks very much indeed and bye for now.

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