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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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I was the under-bidder in a sealed bid auction of 3 residential

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Hi I was the under-bidder in a sealed bid auction of 3 residential properties being sold by a local government body. I have since found out that the properties were bought by the mother of one of the Directors of the Estate Agents selling the properties and the Director is currently in gutting the properties! There is clearly a conflict of interest here and I'd like to know what my options are. Not only has the failure to secure these properties resulted in a significant lost financial opportunity for me but the whole experience has left me very distressed as I firmly believe the process has not been fair and the Estate Agency has used their position to benefit their family. Ursula
Hello Ursula my name is ***** ***** I will help you.Are you saying the mother successfully won the bid? When was the contract awarded for the bid please?Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Alex, yes the mother won the bid (sealed bids deadline was 27th Nov 2015) and the sale was completed on 31st March 2016. To the best of my knowledge the Estate Agents did not disclose that the highest bidder was the mother of one of the Directors. Ursula
There should have been a standstill period, have you objected during this time please?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm not sure what you mean by "standstill period". I only found out that the mother had bought the property some time after the sale was completed. I verbally complained to the Estate Agents about the whole process not being transparent shortly after the bids were made as the bids were opened by the Estate Agents without the bidders being present and no one attended from the Gov Department either. I also spoke to the Estate Agent on 1st April and told him that I wasn't happy with the process and that I'd be making a complaint (which I haven't done as yet). My gut feeling was that the original highest bidder had pulled out and that the Estate Agents had then just sold the property to a family member without coming back to me as the under-bidder, but I have been emailing the Department and they have stated by email that the original bidder and the purchaser are the same. Neither the Department nor the Estate Agents know, at this stage, that I know that the properties were purchased by the Director's mother. All I need to know is what recourse, if any, do I have for loss of profits and distress?
Ok - you need to seek an injunction to seek a reversal and suspension of this. Usually when a contract is won there is a standstill period over which it can be challenged.But you need to seek an injunction pending what is called a Judicial Review of the award (see below).You would need to complete form N16a: Court would set the matter down for a hearing and decide whether to grant the injunction preventing this.You can then consider a Judicial Review of the decision of the Government Body. This will go before a High Court Judge who will consider whether what they have done is legal and reasonable.A Judge can either agree with the decision or remit it back for further consideration.For more information on the Judicial Review process is at: I clarify anything for you about this today please?Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The Government Department has included a link to their Complaints Procedures in their last email - do I need to go through their Complaints process first? How can I seek an injunction for a reversal and suspension of the sale when the mother has already paid for the properties? Will the Department not claim that the contract was won on 27th Nov 2015 when the higher bid was accepted and that there has been an standstill period from that date to 31st March 2016?
It was only by chance that I found out that the Director's mother had bought these properties, so if I'm challenging on the basis of conflict of interest and possible corrupt behaviour by the Estate Agents alongside inadequate checks and controls by the Government Department in selling the properties to a related party, is Judicial Review my only option? I'm guessing that would be quite costly.
The Court can suspend and reverse the decision. But you should have complained during that standstill period. That is when you should have complained. Yes if you have already started a complaint go through that procedure first. But you should be warned you have 3 months from the date of last appeal to seek a Judicial Review.Does that clarify?Alex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Sorry I'm now not clear on what you are saying. It's been over 4 months since the highest bid was accepted and I haven't put in a formal complaint to the Department yet so have I missed my opportunity to complain during the standstill period and also to go for a Judicial Review? The problem with the whole process is that it was clouded in secrecy and it's only by chance that I recently found out that the purchaser is related to the Estate Agents so how could I have challenged it before now? Surely this is a fundamental breach of protocols by the Estate Agent and a lack of oversight by the Department, irrespective of timescales I feel that it must be challengeable in some way?
It would have been better to challenge it within the standstill period. They normally write and say who the winning bidder is. If they did not then this is a breach of the rules.You could still seek to challenge it, albeit late and a risk of losing, based on the fact you have only just found out. You would need an injunction to freeze the assets pending an enquiry.Then once the assets are frozen you could then challenge it on the basis of fraud which is not time limited.Does that clarify?ALex
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks I'm clear now. What I'm going to do is put in a formal complaint the Department and also to the body that the Estate Agent is a member of. I know the complaint is outside the standstill period but as the Department didn't notify me of the winning bid they have failed in their procedures (I actually put in an FOI request in Dec 2015 and was told that they couldn't disclose the name of the highest bidder due to Data Protection). I will also see about getting the injunction underway in order to get the assets frozen and then we will take it from there. Thank you for you help and advice. Ursula
Good luck Ursula. If I could invite you to rate my answer before you go today please, otherwise the site doesnt credit me for the time spent with you today. Thanks in advance. Alex
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