Tenders for government contracts will not be accepted on Yukon Time, a territorial judge has found.
P.S. Sidhu Trucking Ltd. missed the deadline when it resubmitted a bid after 4:00, but before the clock struck 4:01, concluded Justice Ron Veale in territorial court Friday afternoon.
At $4.24 million, Sidhu Trucking would be the lowest bid on the contract, if it had been deemed compliant.
The next lowest bidder was CMF Construction Ltd, at $4.86 million.
The Yukon government is considering the impact of the judge’s decision, and will award the contract in the next few days, a spokesperson with Highways and Public Works confirmed Monday.
Judge Veale concluded that written instructions to bidders were clear. Tenders had to be submitted before the deadline and not after. The deadline was 4 p.m.
He dismissed arguments that instructions in newspaper ads and on the government’s tender management system website said that bids could be submitted up to and including at 4 p.m.
Those sources are not contract documents and, in the case of the government website, included a specific disclaimer urging bidders not to rely on that information, concluded Veale.
The judge also dismissed the argument that Ruben Bicudo, who submitted the tender on behalf of Sidhu Trucking, relied on information from Yukon government staff who told him that bids would be accepted until the clock struck 4:01.
According to documents before the court, Bicudo entered the contract services office at approximately 3:55 p.m. on Aug 15, the day of the deadline.
He was trying to add up the unit prices in the bid to come up with the final total, but his calculator broke.
Staff at the office told him that they could add up the total so long as the rest of the information was complete. Bicudo sealed the bid and a staff member time-stamped it at 3:59.
He then asked for the sealed bid back.
A second staff member checked the time by stamping a scrap of paper.
Finding it to be 4:00, she handed the bid back to Bicudo and told him it would be accepted until the clock struck 4:01.
Bicudo ripped open the package and made a small mark on the document.
It was then resealed, and then time-stamped a second time, this time with “4:00.”
Perhaps government staff should not have returned the document to Bicudo after the deadline, but he violated the rules simply by asking for it, said Veale.
According to the instructions to bidders, tenders can only be returned by written request submitted before the deadline.
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