Government challenged over PPE supply contract worth $83 million

The Good Law Project and EveryDoctor have instructed Hausfeld to challenge the lawfulness of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care/the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) decision to award a $83.3 million public supply contract for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Saiger LLC from Florida, USA. The contract is for the supply of surgical gowns for healthcare workers for the care of patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

It appears that the contract was formally awarded to Saiger LLC on 4 June 2020. However, its existence has only come to light following the publication of a notice on the Contracts Finder Government portal on 23 October 2020 - with no detail other than the date, value and purported urgency of the Contract - and a notice on the Tenders Electronic Daily (TED) portal published on 5 November 2020, which contained limited further information. The Saiger LLC contract documentation has not been published on either portal.

The Claimants understand that no other prospective supplier was given the opportunity to submit a tender for the direct award of this high value contract. Furthermore, there is no evidence that, prior to the pandemic, either Saiger LLC, or Michael A. Saiger - Saiger LLC’s sole Authorised Member - had any experience trading in PPE.

Wessen Jazrawi, Partner at Hausfeld: “Michael A. Saiger was previously only known for his successful Miansai jewellery and fashion accessories business. We understand from court records that his business only began seeking to supply PPE for the first time in early 2020.”

She adds: “It would appear that the DHSC procured an eight-month supply of surgical gowns on an emergency basis and without any competitive tendering. It did so at a price that was over 50 percent higher than the average market price and when there was no discernible surge in demand within the NHS for the gowns.”

Lianne Craig, Head of Commercial Disputes at Hausfeld: “This is an extremely important issue on which we are pleased to be instructed by the Good Law Project and EveryDoctor. Our clients consider the award of the Saiger contract to be unlawful and will be issuing proceedings seeking declaratory relief unless satisfactory responses are provided by the DHSC in its response to our letter before action under the pre-action protocol for judicial review.”

The case has been reported by BBC News online and live on TV, The Guardian and The Times (subscription only).