Your Leader Tired of figuring it out (12 June) presents a typically pessimistic view for lawyers on the advent of a new electronic bill of costs, in circumstances where this change, and those that have preceded it, have limited impact on lawyers. This is certainly the case compared with the impact of those changes on costs lawyers.
Although it is appreciated that there is a more pressing requirement to properly, and contemporaneously, code time recording (and other costs incurred) to meet the new electronic bill’s requirements this, as a concept, has been at the forefront of current reforms since their inception.
Those lawyers who choose not to engage are most likely to leave it to costs professionals to retrospectively code their work.
Ironically, the electronic bill of costs is designed to reduce costs of the assessment process, in circumstances where the costs of assessment and budgeting have always been transparent, predictable and proportionate. The cost of budgeting is prescribed within the CPR as a small percentage of the approved budget – it is that simple.
For lawyers, it is a case of either adapt to the direction of travel regarding budgeting and fixed costs, or risk a retrospective approach that could result in criticism and the need to expend time and effort that may not now be reasonably recoverable on assessment.
One must question, however, when these reforms will address the costs of litigation – their intended target – rather than costs of assessment which have never been under any meritorious attack.
Francis Kendall, Vice-chair, the Association of Costs Lawyers, Diss, Norfolk