A £4.31m damages claim has been launched against the Scottish Parliament by a firm which failed to secure its construction contract.
McAlpine believes it should have built the parliament
Builder Sir Robert McAlpine Construction Management Ltd is suing for lost profits.
It has begun a commercial action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh against Holyrood's corporate body.
McAlpine claims the project breached European regulations. The parliamentary body is contesting the action.
The firm claims that it should have been awarded the contract which would have realised it a profit of £4.31m.
It is also seeking interest on the damages claimed and the expenses of the action.
After a brief court appearance Judge Lord Clarke allowed both sides in the case time to adjust their pleadings and continued a preliminary hearing until 23 March.
Richard Keen, QC for the firm, said that issues over whether the action was time-barred and the value of the claim were expected to go to a full hearing.
Gerry Moynihan, QC for the parliament, said the question of the action being time-barred was "the most significant issue" and may have to be dealt with first.
He said there was also an issue over whether the tender was on the basis of lowest price or most economic advantage.
McAlpine claims that the "sole criterion" for the award of the contract was bound to be lowest price.
The firm said in its summons: "The defender (the corporate body) was bound in the circumstances to accept the lowest tender. The pursuer (McAlpine Construction Management) was the lowest price tenderer."
Changing requirements drove up the building costs
It claims that the company which won the contract, Bovis, was permitted to alter an aspect of the financial basis on which it submitted its bid and that that opportunity was not given to rivals, including McAlpine.
McAlpine was one of four firms invited to tender for the management contract for the Scottish Parliament project, when its building cost was originally estimated at pounds £50m. The estimated final bill is now in excess of £430m.
The firm said that Bovis was the highest of the four tenders submitted but civil servant Barbara Doig, who was project sponsor, decided to readmit Bovis to the process of tendering for the work.
The corporate body denies that McAlpine has a valid claim for loss of profits and maintains that the action has been brought too late.