The Scottish Government and Newhaven set to reach court over Scottish Ministers Marketing Services Framework dispute

A Scottish advertising agency is set to take one of its biggest clients to court next week.

Edinburgh-based Newhaven is mounting legal action against the Scottish Government over its exclusion from the government's marketing services framework.

The Drum understands that the legal action taken by Newhaven, a long standing agency on the Scottish Government's framework, will be heard in court next Tuesday, and that sworn statements have been requested by selected framework agencies about their experience on the tendering process and how the standstill has affected them commercially.

The long-drawn out saga that has seen a total standstill placed upon the announcement of the new framework until the legal process is at an end, will be further complicated by the end of the contracts for the current framework on 31 May.

The uncertainly has even led to framework partners discussing looking to the UK public service framework instead should they be unable to employ any of those who were successful in making the latest version. However, enquiries have also been made as to whether the lots that are unaffected by any complaints could proceed if they have no complaints against them.

The legal challenge is understood to question a number of elements of the procurement led process, while FOI requests from a number of agencies involved in the process are yet to be answered.

A Scottish Government spokesperson would only say: “Scottish Ministers have received a legal challenge from one of the unsuccessful bidders on the new Multi-lot Marketing Services Framework.

"The legal challenge prevents the award of all Lots on the new framework and Scottish Procurement and Commercial Directorate is currently considering legal advice."

Newhaven declined to comment at the time of writing, however a source within the agency has said that the action had been taken reluctantly.

Meanwhile, despite the halt to the framework, the PR and digital contracts for Community, Equality and Public Health account and the PR account to promote Safety, each worth between £150,000 & £250/300,000 are up for tender, as is the year-long contract for the advertising account for Historic Scotland, rumoured to be worth £30,000. All three are being advertised through online portal Public a contract Scotland.

“Some work has been tendered on the existing framework in order to ensure Scottish Government and collaborative partners’ objectives are met," the spokesperson confirmed.

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