Tendering: Practical and Legal Do's and Dont's

Online /
Jan 27 - 29, 2021 /
Course Code: 11-0119-ONL21

  • Overview
  • Syllabus
  • Instructor


Please Note:
This course is held online over 3 days on the following schedule (All times in Eastern Time Zone):
Day 1 and 2 - 8:30 am to 2:30 pm Eastern (40 minute lunch + two 10 minute breaks )
Day 3 - 8:30 am – 1:30 pm Eastern (40 minute lunch + two 10 minute breaks) *********************************************************************************

After participating in this course, you will be able to:

  • Understand the essential legal principles governing tendering
  • Know when a bid is non-compliant and cannot legally be accepted, and Know when an owner can reject the low compliant bid
  • Evaluate tenders fairly to minimize claims from unsuccessful bidders
  • Understand the role of the architect or engineer in the tendering process, and their potential legal liability
  • Know what clauses an owner must have in its tender documents to limit liability and minimize claims

Canada’s adoption in 2017 of both the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and the Canada Free Trade Agreement, among Canadian Provinces and Territories, have significantly changed the practice of Public Sector Procurement.

This is the biggest change to Procurement Law across Canada since the Supreme Court’s 1981 decision in Ron Engineering.

New rules, new remedies, and new technologies require a clear understanding.  Vendors will have to know how to avoid bid rejection on technical grounds, and their rights of bid protest.  Owners will have to know the rules limiting their flexibility in designing procurement invitations and bid evaluations.

Course Outline:

  • Introduction to Tendering
  • Introduction to the Relevant Law
  • The Global Market
  • The Owner’s Obligations to the Contractor – Dangerous Consequences
  • Planning Procurement - Before the Bids are Opened
  • Once the Bids are Opened
  • Bid Protest under Treaties
  • Administrative Law
  • Architects and Engineers
  • Subcontractors
  • Technology
  • Questions and Answers and Feedback to Participants on Achievement of Learning Outcomes

Who Should Attend
Project Officers and Managers • Construction Managers • Consultants • Business Owners • Operations Managers • Municipal Engineers

More Information

Time: 8:30 AM - 2:30 PM Eastern Time

Please note: You can check other time zones here.


Please Note:
This course is held online over 3 days on the following schedule (All times in Eastern Time Zone):
Day 1 and 2 - 8:30 am to 2:30 pm Eastern (40 minute lunch + two 10 minute breaks )
Day 3 - 8:30 am – 1:30 pm Eastern (40 minute lunch + two 10 minute breaks) *********************************************************************************

Introduction to Tendering

  • What is tendering?
    • Pricing
      • Set Price
      • Negotiated Price
      • Competition
  • The political rationale
    • Public v Private Sector
  • The financial rationale
    • Tenders as a form of Auction
    • Auctions
    • Auctions Strategy
  • History of Construction Procurement
  • Terminology: tenders, RFPs, and other terms of art
  • Some international perspective

Introduction to the Relevant Law

  • The legal rules governing tendering
    • The Hierarchy of Rules
    • Treaties, Statutes, regulations, by-laws, and policy
      • [can mimic/adapt rules from both public law and private [common] law]
    • Government Regulation by Treaty Internationally and Federally
      • NAFTA and CETA
    • Government Regulation by Treaty Within Canada
      • CETA, CFTA, NWPTA, etc.
    • Government Regulation by Statute
    • Judicial Regulation Under Common Law
  • Public law v Private law
    • Public Sector - administrative law
    • Private law
      • The common law - contracts
      • essential contract law: privity, enforceability, remedies

Procurement and Contract Law

  • Tendering under traditional contract law
    • Limited scope
    • Owner > Contractor
    • Contractor > Owner
  • The Ron Engineering [1981] revolution - the Supreme Court makes the rules
    • Competing principles at play - certainty versus fairness
    • Measure of damages -- Substantial Liability for Trivial Mistakes
    • Calgary v Northern Construction - arguments the courts didn’t buy [integrity of the process]
    • The US approach - fairness + proportionate consequences
    • The limits of Ron Engineering: exceptions to the rule
    • Contractors’ defences to owners’ claims
    • Owners’ representations
    • RFPs and other forms of procurement versus tenders
    • Strict legal rights versus optimal business practice

The Owner’s Obligations to the Contractor - Dangerous Consequences

  • What The Supreme Court said about Contract A
  • What the Supreme Court inaccurately predicted
  • The implication of Contract A - unintended consequences for owners:  substantial liability for honest errors
  • The Supreme Court makes more new rules
    • M.J.B. Enterprises v. Defence Construction [1999] - non-compliant bids
    • General measure of damages
    • Martel Buildings v. Canada [2000] - fairness in bid evaluation
    • Double N Earthmovers  v. Edmonton [2007] - when Contract A ends
    • Good news for owners:  Tercon v. British Columbia [2010] - exclusion of liability for breach of Contract A
    • Are damages zeroed out?
    • Arguments the courts didn’t buy - integrity of the process
    • Bhasin v. Hrynew [2014] - the new overarching principle of “good faith” - can be mapped to “integrity of the process” re damages and liability

Planning Procurement - Before the Bids are Opened

  • Procurement options - procedural and technological
  • Document preparation - best practices
    • Establishing appropriate evaluation criteria
  • Prequalification - letting in the good suppliers
  • Bidder barring - keeping out the bad
  • Bid amendment and withdrawal
  • Time and place of bid submission
  • Bid security - what’s the point, and what are the options?

Once the Bids are Opened

  • Legal Options under Contract Law
    • Actions
    • Interpretation of Contract - Judicial Seal of Approval
      • By bidder
      • By owner
    • Injunction to stop acceptance
  • Step One - Compliance
    • Basis of Contractor’s rights under Contract A
    • Owner’s obligation to reject non-compliant bids
    • Determining compliance - a minimum requirement
  • Strict versus substantial compliance
  • Limits to the owner’s discretion
    • 99 Problems with bids
  • How to fairly evaluate bids
    • Inability of contractor to force owner to exercise discretion
    • when can an owner reject the low compliant bid?
    • Special cases - because anything can happen
    • the right to reject all tenders
      • what if all tenders are over budget?
      • only one bidder
    • tied bids
    • Post-tender negotiation
  • Disclosure of Bid results
    • extent of voluntary disclosure obligations
    • Mandatory disclosure of bid results and details
      • litigation
      • FOI legislation
      • Treaties

Administrative Law

  • Rights
  • Remedies

Bid Protest Rights under Treaties

  • Rights
  • Remedies

Architects and Engineers

  • Hiring architects and engineers - competitive procurement of design services
  • The consultant’s role (and legal jeopardy) in the procurement process


  • No rights against owners
  • Subcontractors’ obligations to contractors
  • Contractors’ obligations to subcontractors


  • The shift from paper bidding to electronic bidding


Michael MacKay, B.A., LL.B.

Michael MacKay, BA, LLB

Michael MacKay practiced law in Toronto for over 21 years, the last 19 almost exclusively in the field of construction law, and the last 14 at his own firm. He was a member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Construction Law Section’s Executive Committee from 1993 to 2009, and for most of that time co-edited its newsletter “Nuts & Bolts”. He is a frequent contributor to the Construction Law Letter. For over 20 years, he has travelled all across Canada to talk on construction law topics – including a complete construction law course for EPIC.


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Fee & Credits

$1295 + taxes

  • 1.4 Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
  • 14 Professional Development Hours (PDHs)
  • ECAA Annual Professional Development Points

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