Challenges to major rail franchise procurements rejected


Re: Stagecoach East Midlands Trains Ltd (and Ors) V The Secretary of State for Transport [2020] EWHC 1568 (TCC)

On 9 April 2019, the Department had informed Stagecoach and Arriva, and a joint venture between Stagecoach, SNCF and Virgin, that their bids had been rejected on the basis that they did not comply with the pensions requirements of the Department for rail employees.  Eight cases were then brought, four judicial reviews and four claims for damages based on EU law, leading to a very complex and extensive disclosure exercise and an expedited trial of the pensions issues.  The case also involved an expedited application by the Defendant for summary judgment and an appeal to the Court of Appeal in November 2019.

The case involving Arriva was settled in January 2020, shortly before the trial, but on 18 June 2020, Stuart-Smith J ruled in favour of the Department on all of the pension issues, finding that it had been a commercial decision by Stagecoach and its partners to reject the Department’s pension requirements and that the Secretary of State had been legally entitled to disqualify them for non-compliance.

Rhodri Thompson QC was involved in this case.