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Procurement Service

9. Specialist Procurement Activity

9.1 Disposals

9.1.1 Disposal of Assets and Surplus Supplies

  • This section covers the disposal of assets and surplus equipment. It should be undertaken in ways that demonstrate value for money, record an adequate audit trail and maintain the highest ethical standards during such disposals.
  • The disposal of land and buildings is dealt with by Estates and Buildings.

9.1.2 General Principles

  • Departments should keep their holdings of assets and consumables under review, and, subject to any necessary authorisation, surpluses should be sold as quickly as possible.
  • The Treasurer’s authorisation must be obtained to dispose of all assets.
  • Departments must ensure they get the best possible price consistent with other value for money considerations, e.g. the cost of time and effort required to increase proceeds from the sale.
  • The Insurance Service and Capital Team must be notified when assets are sold or disposed of, so that asset registers can be updated.

9.1.3 Method of Disposal

  • Disposal should be arranged by a member of staff delegated by the approver.
  • Disposal may be by means of:
  • Selling:
    • Materials with a scrap or resale value should be sold. The method of selling is dependent on the assets and/or supplies in question and their estimated current value. For certain items, e.g. valuable plant or vehicles, sale by auction may be the best method of disposal in which case the auctioneers themselves should be appointed by means of competition. As the University has so many different types of assets and supplies which it might sell second hand, the processes for obtaining a purchaser cannot be prescriptive.
    • Whatever the method of sale, e.g. advertisement in local paper, approach to interested parties, advertisement internally, it must be transparent, fair and designed to obtain the highest price.
    • It should be made clear to prospective stakeholders:
      • That it is in their interest to inspect the goods on offer before they submit their bid;
      • How their offer should be priced (e.g. prices per lot, per kilo, etc);
      • Whether the price offered should be exclusive or inclusive of VAT. VAT should be charged according to the law (i.e. at the normal rate on all sales unless in exceptional circumstances, e.g. the goods are being sold to an educational establishment for research purposes – if in doubt, discuss with your approver);
      • That the seller reserves the right to reject all or part of any offer that is made; that the goods are sold under the terms and conditions on the back of the form entitled “Sold Note”.
      • Sold Note:
        • All sales should be properly documented using one of the two forms entitled “Sold Note” (sale of second hand goods and materials to consumers or sale of second hand goods and materials to non-consumers). No sale should be entered into without a clear understanding between the stakeholder and seller as to the price, payment terms and collection arrangements. A full audit trail of the disposal of assets and surplus goods must be retained in the department, including the manner used to seek bids and the population covered; the arrangements for receipt and scrutiny of the bids; the price offered by the highest bidder; the accounting arrangements for crediting the proceeds to the University.
        • Terms and conditions of sale are printed on the back of the form entitled “Sold Note”.
        • Liability for personal injury or death arising out of the University’s negligence cannot be avoided. To avoid liability under the Consumer Protection Act 1987, the University needs to retain records of the suppliers of all equipment that it purchases even after it has passed to another party. The name of the original supplier should be provided to the stakeholder at the time of the sale/gift. The University’s liability is adequately reflected in the terms that accompany the sold note.
        • Sold note documentation can be downloaded from: www.dur.ac.uk/procurement/local/staff/forms/
        • Equipment must not be sold if it is known to be unsafe unless it is sold as scrap or for reconditioning and the stakeholders must be made aware of this condition.
  • Gift:
    • If goods have little or no resale value, the Approver, with the Treasurer’s approval, may decide to offer them as a gift.
    • This process must be fair and transparent and the form entitled “Gifts of Second Hand Goods and Materials by the University of Durham” should be employed.
    • Completion of this form will ensure that liability under the Sale of Goods Act 1979 (as amended by the Sale of Goods Act 1994) will not arise. It is relevant regardless of whether this is as a gift to a consumer or non-consumer.
    • Goods which contain or have contained toxic, inflammable or other hazardous materials should be destroyed through the University’s waste contract (www.dur.ac.uk/procurement/local/buyers_guide/contract/?id=169).
  • Destroying / dumping:

9.2 Importing

9.2.1 Purchasing Goods from Abroad

  • Where goods that are purchased from outside of the UK are intended for use within the University’s business, Government regulations regarding import must be followed.

9.2.2 Import Duty

  • Imported goods are typically subject to duty and VAT.
  • Guidance provided by HMRC provides useful background information:

9.2.3 VAT

  • Where the import is for an individual’s own personal use, VAT is not chargeable.
  • Where the import is on behalf of the University, either:
    • VAT must be paid at point of import; or
    • VAT will be charged to the relevant cost centre when reimbursement is made to the individual from University funds.

9.3 Duty Relief

  • Durham University can apply for duty relief on certain pieces of scientific equipment when we import it to the UK from countries outside of Europe.
  • This procedure will only apply to goods purchased outside of the EU.
  • The stakeholder must obtain a commodity code to complete the capital equipment form, from the Tariff classification helpline: 01702 366077.
  • A form is signed by the Director or Deputy Director of Procurement and sent to NIRC. A copy of the certificate is sent to the supplier with the purchase order.
  • The tariff classification helpline will ask what the equipment does, how it does it and for the technical specification or questions.
  • All goods must be for use in connection with University business only and all Government regulations must be followed.

9.4 In house bids

  • This part of the policy applies to bids that will be received by internal departments, or outsourced companies of the University. 
  • Where the University’s requirement can be delivered by an internal department or college, and the estimated value is below the EU threshold (see section 8.2) the Procurement Service will carry out a benchmarking exercise to determine if the in house offer will provide improved value for money compared to an externally provided solution. The outcome of this benchmarking process will be provided to UEC who will determine whether to award a contract to the internal supplier subject to further commercial analysis (in the form of formal single tender documentation), or to conduct a tender exercise involving both internal and external parties.
  • UEC, advised by the Treasurer, will decide if the University’s requirement should be subject to a competitive process or whether a sole in-house supplier will be considered without the need for a competitive process. This will only apply to procurement exercises below the EU threshold (see section 8.2).
  • Unless specifically agreed otherwise by UEC, the procurement policy, procedures and evaluation methodology applied to in-house bids will be identical to that applied to externally submitted bids in order to select the most appropriate bid in terms of the evaluation criteria set out in the tender document.
  • Where the University’s requirement can be delivered by an internal department or college, and the estimated value is above the EU threshold (see section 8.2) the Procurement Service will carry out a full EU tender, and an internal bid will be subject to the same rigorous evaluation as any other bid. Any conflicts of interest will need to be established prior to the EU notice being placed.

Where an internal bid is accepted, and a contract with an external vendor already exists, the contract will have to be terminated in accordance with the terms and conditions in place, and any cancellation fees will have to be borne by the University.