Translation company wins appeal to halt contract award
The Court of Appeal has overturned a High Court decision lifting an automatic suspension on the awarding of a contract for the supply of interpreters for the State's immigration service and Legal Aid Board.
The suspension came into effect after a company which has been supplying interpreters for several years, Word Perfect Translation Service Ltd, brought a legal action against the Minister for Pubic Expenditure and Reform challenging the integrity of the award process.
The Minister applied to have the suspension lifted and last month the High Court's Mr Justice Seamus Noonan granted the Minister an order lifting it.
On Wednesday, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan, in a unanimous decision on behalf of the three-judge Court of Appeal, overturned the High Court ruling.
He said damages would not be an adequate remedy for Word Perfect should it win its case.
Mr Justice Hogan said if Word Perfect was to lose the business, there seems little doubt but that it would hamper its ability to retain specialist translators of languages such as Farsi, Albanian and Ga.
Irrespective of whether Word Perfect's director, Agim Gashi, raised this concern somewhat belatedly, there must be "a real risk of significant reputational damage to the company which might possibly prove to be terminal".
These competing factors are admittedly rather finely balanced on both sides, he said.
In this context, the fact that damages have not been shown to be an adequate remedy (should Word Perfect win its main case), this has an important and perhaps even a decisive impact on the appeal, he said.
The right to an effective remedy is a constitutional fundamental, he said.
In this case, the adherence to a "standstill clause", whereby the awarding of the contract is put on hold pending legal proceedings, is in reality the only real remedy Word Perfect has, he said.
If that protection was lifted, Word Perfect would enjoy no real remedy even it the case went to full trial and a material breach of the public procurement regime, under which the contract was awarded, was established.
Mr Justice Hogan said a condition of the appeal court was an undertaking by Word Perfect to prosecute its main proceedings in the High Court without any further delay.