The transport minister is expected to brief politicians on Wednesday after a row blew up over lifeline ferry services to the Northern Isles.
A six-year contract to operate the routes should have been signed on Tuesday, but has now been put on hold pending a legal challenge.
Earlier this month, the multinational firm Serco was announced as the preferred bidder for the six-year contract, worth more than £240m.
The announcement prompted anger among some business leaders, who fear it could lead to a reduction in freight services.
Serco says it would like to reveal publicly what it intends to deliver.
But now the process has stalled after a rival bidder, Streamline, decided to mount a legal challenge against the decision to award the contract to Serco.
Transport minister Keith Brown said the challenge was "disappointing" and insisted contingency plans were being put in place.
He added: "In the meantime, I can assure the people of Orkney and Shetland that contingency plans are being put in place to ensure there is no disruption to their ferry service.
"Building on the work of the current operator – NorthLink Ferries Ltd – over the past few years, we are taking the Northern Isles ferry service forward. The new contract will maintain a 90 minute service between Scrabster and Stromness, prevent any repetition of the extended dry dock periods experienced this year and improve the passenger experience."
Mr Brown is expected to brief local politicians, who are calling for the issue to be resolved as quickly as possible, on Wednesday evening.