191031 State Enabled Exaggeration on an Industrial Scale

EM Highways Services Ltd (now Kier Highways Ltd) has a history of contract non-compliance in Area 9 (at least):

The invoicing, which saw attendance charges alone increase from £125 to £2,700 + £2,000 admin’, likely looked impressive as Kier was looking to acquire EM Highways Services Ltd in 2015; £4,000 of exaggeration on 3,000+ claims?

  • 08/2015, Kier unsuccessfully tried to have our clients abandon us and were forced to the table.  Neil Pendlebury-Green of Kier submitted a new process, again contract non-complaint and so obviously flawed it was quickly withdrawn.
  • 10/2015, Kier’s former claims manager, Sophie Granville, introduced Kier’s new ‘defined cost’ methodology.  The process was exaggeration in another guise using inflated rates (as opposed to defined costs) and uplifts that were not incurred

At this time, neither Kier nor Highway England mentioned Appendix A to Annex 23 which set out the equation by which to achieve the MAXIMUM a Third Party was to be charged   The Authority had placed the contracts and annexes online but ‘overlooked’ the small section (Appendix A) that set out the process by which Third Parties were to be charged ‘no more than’.  ‘Coincidentally’ Kier did not comply with the process. 

  • 01/2017, Kier exhibited Annex 23 in Court proceedings to demonstrate their ability to claim but, seemingly by mistake, left Appendix A to Annex 23 attached.  They have not done so again.

Having identified the obvious contract non-compliance, the profiteering and fraud, we wrote to the Authority and began, in earnest, to try and obtain the schedule of rates Kier should be using to bill the Authority and Third Parties. 

We wasted our time; the Authority did nothing, exaggerated claims continued to be presented and the Authority could not even stop their own lawyers (Corclaim / Shakespeare Martineau) issuing proceedings. 

2018, in November and December, the Authority’s desire to keep the schedule of DCP rates secret suffered two blows:

Without these exemptions to hide behind, we again asked the Authority for the DCP Rates, in Areas 9 and 10.  The response – no such thing … a price list was overlooked! Really?

  • 24/06/2019, to perpetuate the ‘not held’ myth, the Authority instigated the NSoRC, a set of rates considered to be ’eminently reasonable’ (the Authority’s CEO Jim O’Sullivan and General Counsel Tim Reardon used the same phraseology).

The NSoRC was not, as the Authority now claims, a ‘pilot’.  This was it; the process was a ‘roll-out’*

  • 31/10/2019, the NSoRC was suspended; it appears that whilst obvious exaggeration (duplication) was inbuilt, the contractors were unhappy with the process. 

Kier established yet another contract non-compliant process:

  • 2020, an example of exaggeration on one aspect of a claim – incident attendance – read more there.

Is it a coincidence that Kier has been allowed to continue the M23 All Lane Running (ALR) / Smart Motorway project – despite apparently being subject to investigation? 

*Tim Reardon