12 February 2013

Rwanda: Vague Bid Documents Expose You to Law Suits

Legal matters are very delicate when closing deals and pose great challenges if they are overlooked in any business process.

"The legal aspect of procurement should be at the back of any contractor's or job owner's mind because it is those slight mistakes that most practitioners make that could cost them dearly," says Augustus Seminega, the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority (RPPA) director general.

He adds that entities should always ensure that they draft clear, concise deals with, especially as far as legal issues are concerned.

A practitioner should anticipate anything and as such look at every detail of the procurement process and correct mistakes so that the whole process runs smoothly.

Seminega says, the procurement entity should also make clear specifications in the bid document, noting that when specifications are vague, each provider interprets them differently. This, he says, brings up challenges when a provider is disqualified basing on an unclear specification.

Hesays it is adisable to use the standard bidding documents in cases of public tendering.

"If, for example, a procurement official uses a bid document for consultancy when indeed he/she is procuring supplies, this creates a mix up when adopting ealuation methods. This is a precursor for legal challenges," he warns.

Also, monitor expiry dates of bid validity, Seminega notes. He says some legal challenges arise when the validity of bid documents supplied by the service provider expires and the buying entity goes ahead to award a contract.

He explains that this can be a source of legal challenge since the prices quoted in the submission can no longer be binding to the supplier.

"Having a correct address and precise time for bid submission deadline eases the whole procurement process. The bid document should state the address, including plot, floor and room numbers, if possible," he explains.

He adds that this is done for clarity purposes because with all these details, bidders will not have an excuse if anything goes wrong.

"If you tell bidders to drop their bids at the Rwanda Public Procurement Authority office, they are at liberty to drop them at any RPPA office in the country," he says.

Seminega adds that if you state that bids should be submitted at the authority headquarters at the Grand Pension Plaza not later than 10:00 am on April 20, bids that will be brought after the specified time are rejected without causing any legal problem.

He notes that specification is vital to ensure clarity of the bid documents. "It's always crucial when closing a deal that one takes extra precaution such that there are no loose ends left untied, which, when left, could make the whole deal collapse."

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