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 public, utility 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, 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 in advising the Audit Commission on the complex outsourcing of their entire in-house audit practice. We had a great result: not only was the project delivered successfully and on time, but it looks set to save the public sector £250 million over five years. It will also provide local bodies with a wider market choice for audit services in the future.

Another exciting role was in advising the Department for Culture, Media and Sports and BDUK on the successful procurement of their broadband delivery framework under the competitive dialogue procedure. Working to a challenging timetable, and as part of large multi-disciplined team to put the framework in place, it now provides a platform to stimulate investment in broadband infrastructure for rural and remote UK areas.

What do others say about me?

The Chambers UK directory ranks me as one of the top six procurement lawyers in the country. 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.