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last updated: 11th April 2015

When preparing the tender documentation it is necessary to ensure that the specifications for a product or service are non-discriminatory. Specifications should be performance based to stimulate competition and innovation.

The technical specifications may be defined by reference to any European standards which are relevant. References, which have the effect of favouring or eliminating particular suppliers, contractors, products or services should be avoided.  Reference to standards should always be accompanied by the words ‘or equivalent’.

Where a bidder submits a product to an alternative standard, it is up to the bidder to demonstrate the equivalence of the standard.

Special conditions relating to the performance on a contract may be specified, provided they are compatible with European law. Special conditions can relate to sustainability criteria.

For all procurements which is intended for use by natural persons, whether the general public or staff of the contracting authority, the technical specification shall, except in duly justified cases, be drawn up so as to take into account accessibility criteria for disabled persons or design for all users.

It is not normally permitted to use brand names, sources of supply, trade marks, patent types, origins or other means of production when writing specifications. The exception is when the goods and services cannot otherwise be described by reference to technical specifications that are sufficiently precise and intelligible to all suppliers. In these cases, the brand names etc. must be accompanied by the words "or equivalent".

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