Sources suggest Mace could launch High Court challenge “within days”

Mace is considering mounting a High Court challenge to HS2’s award of a £170m deal on phase two of the mega-project to US consultant CH2M, Building understands.

The firm, in JV with Turner & Townsend (T&T), lost out on the role to CH2M earlier this month, alongside fellow shortlisted bidder Bechtel.

Market sources said Mace could lodge a High Court challenge to the award, which is currently in the standstill period, within days.

When contacted by Building, a Mace spokesperson said: “As a British owned company, we were naturally disappointed with HS2’s decision and are looking closely at our options.

“We felt our experience working on the third runway at Heathrow, the London 2012 Olympics and Hinkley Point C, combined with our strong presence in the North of England, would have been an asset to successfully completing this important British project on time and within budget.”

A spokesperson for T&T said the consultant “was not challenging the contract.” Bechtel’s position on the award is not known at this stage.

CH2M referred enquiries to HS2. An HS2 spokesperson said: “We confirm that HS2 Ltd has received a request for information regarding the proposed award of the role of Development Partner for Phase Two B. These types of questions are not uncommon during the standstill period.  HS2 is responding to these questions.”

Bechtel has been contacted for comment.

HS2 Ltd selected CH2M as the winner for the £170m development partner role on the second phase of HS2 earlier this month, as tipped by Building.

The role is a seven-year contract worth between £130m and £170m on the development of the high-speed line branching north of Birmingham to Manchester and Leeds.

The CH2M win caused controversy coming soon after HS2 Ltd’s appointment of CH2M European managing director Mark Thurston as its chief executive last month, after the client’s previous boss Simon Kirby left last September for an executive role at Rolls-Royce.

An anonymous Conservative MP and the Taxpayers’ Alliance both criticised Thurston’s appointment to the London newspaper City AM earlier this month, with the Taxpayers’ Alliance criticising what it called a “revolving door between HS2 Ltd and CH2M”.

Thurston is to replace interim HS2 Ltd chief executive Roy Hill, who was himself seconded to the client from CH2M and will return to the engineer.

CH2M - which has been the subject of press speculation of a possible £3bn merger with Atkins - also won the £350m contract to be engineering delivery partner on phase one of the HS2 megaproject last spring, in joint venture with Atkins and Spanish engineer Sener.

Responding to the risk of conflicts of interest in Thurston’s new client role, HS2 Ltd chairman Sir David Higgins has previously said Thurston will “cut all links” with CH2M before starting his new job.

He added: “[CH2M] will be treated in the same way as any other supplier - no more or less favourably than that.

“All those who bid for work with HS2 have the right to know that they will be treated on the same basis and, as we have shown to date, we are determined that our systems are constructed in such a way as to deliver that equal treatment.”