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Strict Compliance versus Commercial Reality: The Practical Application of EC Public Procurement Law to the UK's Private Finance Initiative

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The Private Finance Initiative (PFI) has been described as the largest cultural change for decades in the way the public sector operates in the United Kingdom. Most of these projects have to be delivered within the framework of public procurement law. This article investigates whether the divergence between the legal framework and the commercial requirements of PFI has resulted in the development of a ‘PFI procurement practice’. If so, it is aimed to examine the reasons for developing the practice and whether it deviated from procurement law. The results of the qualitative empirical study, on which the article is based, are not limited to PFI procurement, but have wider implications for EC procurement law and the general debate over whether it is suitable for modern procurement practice. The findings are also of interest to legal sociologists and European Union lawyers as they describe circumstances under which addressees of the law deviate from supra-national rules.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Nottingham

Publication date: December 1, 2003


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