Does COVID-19 have any impact on my relationship with the Public Administration (namely as pertains to meeting deadlines or observing any formalities)? To what extent?

Broadly speaking, the consequences of COVID-19 on relations between private individuals may also, with certain adaptations, be extrapolated to the relationship between individuals and the Public Administration, notably and always subject to a case-by-case analysis:

  • qualification as a "force majeure" event, as grounds for not complying, in whole or in part, with obligations provided for in an administrative contract, in particular with regard to deadlines (depending on what the contract specifically provides for and provided that a causal link between the illness and the impossibility of meeting deadlines is evidenced), as well as the impossibility or unenforceability of taking alternative measures, or their insufficiency, and always without prejudice to the counterparty's duty to inform.
  • claiming the occurrence of an abnormal and unforeseeable change in circumstances as grounds for amending the contract and/or restoring the financial balance;
  • claiming a "justifiable reason" as a ground for excusable non-compliance with deadlines before the Public Administration (or, at least, as a ground for requesting an extension of the deadline).
  • Decree-Law no. 6/20, of 6 May, determined the suspension of all deadlines for execution of public works, provisions of services and judicial proceedings.

 

Can I withdraw a bid already submitted in a public procurement procedure claiming that because of COVID-19 I can no longer meet the requirements to which I am bound?

The disruption caused by COVID-19 could be grounds to release the bidder from the bid submitted provided that it is duly justified (such disruption must be an event which the bidder was not required to be aware of at the time of preparation of the bid and that demonstrably renders performance impossible or excessively burdensome).

 

Does the current context entitle those interested in participating in public procurement procedures to benefit from a longer deadline for the submission of applications and bids?

The law does not expressly impose it, but it is advisable that public contracting authorities - except in cases of manifest and pressing urgency - grant a longer period than the normal one, which is deemed reasonable and sufficient for the submission of application or bids.

It should be noted, however, that the disruptions caused by Covid-19 have resulted in the suspension of all awarding of contracts for works and services by the public administration, with the exception of those directly concerned with the fight against the disease.

 

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This information is being updated on a regular basis.

The information provided and the opinions expressed herein have been prepared with the help of VdA Legal Partners and are of a general nature. They are not in lieu of appropriate legal advice in connection with specific cases.