Work on converting a Church property into a government home for the elderly in Għajnsielem is set to resume after years of legal delays and €1 million paid out in rent.

The highest court this week upheld the decision to award the €30 million government contract to equip and manage Dar San Ġużepp to the consortium CareMalta.

The cumulative financial strength of all the members of the consortium did not meet the financial criteria- Court

Chief Justice Mark Chetcuti, sitting with Mr Justice Giannino Caruana Demajo and Mr Justice Anthony Ellul, ruled that CareMalta’s competitor, Golden Care Homes Malta did not qualify to bid for the project as it did not meet the requisites of the call for tenders issued by the Gozo ministry.

The ministry has already spent more than €1 million since it started renting the abandoned property from the Gozo curia in 2013.

The project was granted a development permit in 2014 and works on the conversion began in early 2015.

In July 2020, the ministry issued a call for tenders to finish, furnish, equip, operate, manage and maintain Dar San Ġużepp.

Four bids were submitted and the contract was granted to CareMalta after Golden Care Homes were excluded from the bidding process because they did not meet the debt-ratio requirements.

Rival bidder appealed decision

Golden Care Homes appealed to the Public Contracts Review Board (PCRB), arguing that their bid, the lowest submitted, had been wrongly disqualified and that the debt-ratio requirement was being calculated incorrectly.

The consortium argued that one of its companies, FM Core – which was going to take care of the finishings – satisfied the requirement. The other company forming the group, Operations Holdings Limited, was the one deemed as ineligible over the debt-ratio requirement. It had been brought in due to its expertise in running the home. 

The PCRB, in August, upheld this argument and cancelled the tender, ruling that the evaluation process should start afresh.

However, CareMalta appealed, arguing that, since the bid had been submitted by both companies in the rival consortium, they both had to satisfy the tender requirements.

Consortium as a whole must satisfy criteria

The court noted that one of the tender conditions read: “the consortium… as a whole must satisfy the criteria established in the instructions to tenderers.”

The judges said that this alone was enough to uphold the appeal.

They said the financial figures presented by Operations Holdings did not provide peace of mind for the entire duration of the contract.

Also, the commitment given by a member on which the other member relied did not cover all the financial burdens.

In any case, the cumulative financial strength of all the members of the consortium did not meet the financial criteria, so the contracting authority had been right to exclude the offer of Golden Care Homes.

The court revoked the tribunal’s decision and upheld the original decision to disqualify the offer submitted by Golden Care Homes Malta and award the contract to CareMalta.

Lawyers Matthew Paris and Luke Dalli represented CareMalta. 



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