Commission compensates small UK company after Ombudsman intervenes

February 23, 2004

Strasbourg, 20 February 2004

The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has welcomed the European Commission's decision to pay €21,000 compensation to a small UK company. This follows the Ombudsman's finding that the company suffered loss as a result of maladministration by the Commission.

According to the Ombudsman, "the Commission failed to grant the company a reasonable amount of time in order to submit its proposal for the pre-eligibility check it had offered to carry out". This ultimately led to the company's proposal being deemed ineligible due to an error it contained. The Ombudsman therefore invited the Commission to consider compensating the company, to the extent that it had suffered a loss.

The Commission acknowledged that exceptional circumstances had made it difficult for the company to execute the contract correctly. It therefore agreed to grant compensation, on a purely ex gratia basis, for part of the expenses. The complainant thanked the Ombudsman for his help and concern.

Details of the case

A small company from the UK had entered into a contract with the Commission aimed at preparing a proposal within the framework of a research programme(1). After its proposal was deemed ineligible, it turned to the Ombudsman, alleging that what it considered to be a "ridiculously short timetable" had created conditions in which errors could be made. The company submitted that it had done all in its power to prepare for the contract at its own risk and expense in time and money. The company added that its proposal had failed on one criterion that had not been properly explained to it by the UK's national contact point for such proposals.

The Commission argued that there had been sufficient time for the firm to prepare a good proposal. In addition, it outlined the range of tools and services that had been made available for the company to perform an eligibility check of its proposal. Following the Ombudsman's intervention, however, the Commission reviewed its position and agreed to pay compensation.

The Ombudsman's decision can be found on his website: http://www.euro-ombudsman.eu.int/decisio n/en/021878.htm

For further information, please call Mr. Gerhard Grill, Principal Legal Advisor, tel. +33 3 88 17 24 23.

(1) The project was to elaborate a safety device designed to prevent trucks from rolling over and thus to save lives.

European Ombudsman Press Release No. 7/2004
Item source: http://www.euro-ombudsman.eu.int/release /en/2004-02-20.htm

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