Ruth Smith

Position: National Head of Procurement Law
Phone: +(44)(0)1223 222585
Offices:Cambridge

What can I do for you?

Procurement law continues to develop and evolve at a rapid pace. Keeping abreast of developments can be difficult, but equally mistakes can be time-consuming and costly. My focus is in helping my clients, whether they be publicutility or private sector, safely navigate their way through the procurement regulations and EU directives. This includes advising on their day to day procurement activities, major projects or initiatives and in defending or bringing procurement challenges.

I work for a diverse range of clients across a number of sectors (including health, education, technology, real estate, defence, central government, third sector and utilities) and for both buyers and suppliers. That helps me to provide balanced advice, as I can see things from a variety of different perspectives.

Supporting my clients’ objectives

I’m really lucky to have worked on a number of fascinating procurement projects and so have lots of experience and lessons learned which I can draw on. A particular highlight for me was advising the Environment Agency on the competitive dialogue procurement for their Thames Estuary Project for flood construction and maintenance works. Following a successful procurement, the project will now protect London and the Thames Estuary from flooding, including £200 billion of property, over the next 10 years. It is widely regarded as being one of the largest of its kind in the country.

Clients tell me that one of their biggest worries is the risk of a procurement challenge and, as these are increasingly common, managing the defence should a challenge arise. I've been successful in both minimising the risk of challenge during the procurement, and supporting clients to resist these and minimize any associated disruption. This insight and experience also helps me to advise my clients when bidding and on making an effective challenge when this is appropriate. In many cases there is a "win/win" solution which can be found.

What do others say about me?

The Chambers UK directory ranks me in the top band of procurement lawyers in the country and Legal 500 credits me for being "legally excellent and commercially sound" and "one of the best advisers in the field nationally". But, for me, the best reward at the end of a job is a happy client. One of my clients recently said: “The business is really pleased with your approach (a real rarity when the business is happy with legal advice!). It is really impressive when you can draw on such a user friendly specialist at short notice.”

I’m also told that I take the mystery out of procurement, make even complex issues seem simple and “provide procurement advice that even non-procurement experts can understand”.

It's really important that you take the time to get to know your client and understand their business, so it was fantastic feedback to hear a client say that my team “always advises from a position of strength, based on your knowledge of how we do our work and how we manage our business commercially”.

What else should you know?

I’m an executive committee member of the Procurement Lawyers Association, which keeps me up to date and actively involved in all the latest procurement law developments. My team also runs a free online procurement resource, with guidance notes, FAQs, blog posts and a helpline for anyone needing to get to grips with procurement law.