What is the standstill period for a public contract?

A standstill period is a period during which the contracting authority postpones the award of the public contract in order to give participating companies the opportunity to possibly appeal the award decision. The purpose of a standstill period is to ensure legal protection for companies and to promote transparency and fair competition.

The standstill period applies to most public contracts, except for contracts of limited value whose estimate is less than EUR 30,000 (excluding VAT) or negotiated procedures without publication. The standstill period starts from the notification of the award decision to the unsuccessful tenderers. The duration of the standstill period depends on the method of notification:

  • If notification is by fax or electronically, the standstill period is 15 calendar days.
  • If notification is by mail or carrier, the standstill period is 20 calendar days.
  • If the notification is made in different ways, the shortest period applies.

During the standstill period, the contracting authority may not close the contract with the successful bidder. The standstill period also does not create a contractual obligation. That arises only at the conclusion of the contract, after the expiration of the standstill period or after the settlement of any appeal.

For participating companies, the standstill period allows them to challenge the award decision if they believe that the contracting authority made a mistake or violated the law. They can file an appeal with the Council of State or the court of first instance, depending on the nature and value of the contract. They must do so within the standstill period or they will lose their right to challenge the award.

Thus, a standstill period is an important tool for both the contracting authority and the participating companies. A standstill period provides a waiting period between the award decision and the conclusion of the contract, during which the rights and interests of the parties involved are respected.

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