Courts to decide on strike out action for Sita

Waste firm Sita’s legal action over the Greater Manchester PFI deal could be thrown out if the courts decide the claim is out of date, sources have said.

Sita’s claim, filed at the end of August, accuses the Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority (GMWDA) of breaching procurement regulations during the tender of its £3.8bn waste project, awarded to Viridor/Laing in April.

GMWDA denies the charges, which it was to defend in a submission due in last Friday. However, the authority instead plans to try to have the case thrown out because it is "out of time", according to a GMWDA source.

He said court rules dictated that a claimant has 90 days to take action for a perceived grievance of this type. "Sita should have taken action sooner than that, and because they are out of time we are going to take a motion to the courts to strike [out the case]," he said.

"We think that they are out of time. They were told in January 2007 that preferred bidder was Viridor Laing. We formalised our notice in April 2008 - three months from that is well gone."

He added: "And of course we let the contract on 8 April 2009 and three months from that takes you to July, and they took action in August."

GMWDA will submit its claim before the end of this month. After that the courts will set a date to hear the case for the strike-out proceedings. The hearing is expected to take place before the end of the year.

Sita said it could not comment on the case beyond its original statement.