Court: procurement organised by Rīgas meži caused competition distortion

Riga municipality’s enterprise LLC Rīgas meži organised a procurement for mobile communication services in September 2019. One particular condition included for the number of base mobile communication stations created clear advantages for a single contender, as concluded by the Administrative District Court.
LLC Tele2 and LLC Bite Latvija submitted a complaint about the aforementioned procurement. They challenge conditions of the procurement, including the specific condition for the number of base mobile communication stations. The Procurement Monitoring Bureau (IUB), however, permitted the procurement to continue and left the challenged conditions in force. The two companies later decided to turn to court.
As the trial went on, LLC Latvijas Mobilais telefons (LMT) was picked as the winner of the procurement and a contract worth EUR 93 000 was signed.
The expanded pleas from Tele2 and Bite Latvija mentioned, however, that proceedings should continue and it is necessary to declare IUB’s decision incorrect to prevent the repetition of similar situations in the future, specifically the use of modified criteria that unjustifiably limit competition and provide advantages to a single contender.
On 10 December the Administrative District Court declared the November 2019 decision of IUB as illegal.
The ruling is subject to appeal at the Administrative Cases Department within a month.
The court concluded that mobile communications industry experts have no agreement on which should be declared the decisive criterion for evaluation of accessibility of mobile communication services. Although none of the opinions of industry specialists which the court took into account mentioned that the number of base mobile communication stations servicing specific radio frequency ranges as a criterion that has no effect on the quality of services, it is not considered as the only and most applicable parameter either.
According to the court, the main conclusion is that an objective result can be reached if the number of base mobile communication stations are viewed together with other technical parameters affecting radio coverage, such as positioning, type of antennas, radio signal’s electromagnetic intensity and interference factors, type of surrounding environment, landscape and other parameters. As for specific geographical locations, the most objective criterion is each operator’s coverage and service accessibility measurements.
Thereby the court concluded a larger number of mobile communication stations alone cannot guarantee a situation when mobile communication services could become unavailable due to signal interference.
The court came to the conclusion that the decision made by IUB was illegal,
because the conditions listed in the procurement do not meet the basic principles of public procurement procedures, which state it is necessary to prevent the provision of advantages to a specific contender and thereby distort competition.