The qualification step is designed to find out if there are any reasons why the college should not deal with the supplier. The Regulations state a list of offences where if the bidding supplier, its Directors or Partners or any other person who has powers of representation, decision or control over the bidding supplier has been found guilty of, that bidding supplier must be excluded from the procurement process.
The list of offences for mandatory exclusion can be found in The Public Contracts Regulation 57 and are also listed in the Cabinet Office Standardised Selection Questionnaire. They include offences such as corruption, bribery, fraud, money laundering, terrorism, sexual offences, drug trafficking and non payment of taxes or social security contributions (where the breach has been established by judicial or administrative decision having final and binding effect in accordance with the legal provisions of the country in which it is established or with those of any of the jurisdictions of the UK). In relation to the non payment of taxes, this may be disregarded where an exclusion would be clearly disproportionate, in particular where only minor amounts of taxes or social security contributions are unpaid or the bidding supplier has not had time to fulfil its obligations.
The Regulations also provide a list of discretionary grounds for exclusion. Here a contracting authority may exclude a bidding supplier from the procurement procedure if any of the grounds are found to apply. The discretionary grounds for exclusion can be found in The Public Contracts Regulation 57 and are also listed in the Cabinet Office Standardised Selection Questionnaire. They include breaches of environmental, social or labour laws, bankruptcy, grave professional misconduct, distorting competition, misrepresentation of information, conflicts of interest and termination of other public contracts due to significant or persistent deficiencies. The Regulations allow the bidding supplier the opportunity to evidence ‘self cleaning’ i.e. the remedial steps it has taken to address any of these breaches which must be evaluated by the contracting authority before a decision is made to exclude the bidding supplier.
Contracting authorities are required to ask bidding suppliers to declare whether any of the mandatory or discretionary grounds for exclusion apply in all procurements above the relevant EU threshold.