A new bill of costs will be made compulsory from next October if a year-long pilot scheme proves to be successful.
Practice direction 51L, issued by the Ministry of Justice this week, confirms that a second-stage pilot began on 3 October with a view to establishing a mandatory form of bill of costs. This would apply to all work done after 1 October 2017.
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee will monitor and review the pilot scheme and aims to fix the mandatory form of the new bill of costs at its meeting in May 2017.
In notes introducing the practice direction, the MoJ states: 'The new bill of costs pilot scheme is extended by a year and is modified to alleviate concerns raised about the existing form’s reliance on J Codes.
'Parties will be able to file their bill in electronic format which will assist the court in assessing the bill as any adjustment made by the court, to say the rate or hours claimed, will automatically be carried through to all relevant parts of the bill.'
The use of the new bill of costs will be if detailed assessment proceedings are in the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) and the notice of commencement of detailed assessment is served on the paying party on or after 3 October.
The mandatory application of the bill of costs is in line with calls from Lord Justice Jackson (pictured) in April for the rule committee to end the ‘deadlock’ affecting the professions and judiciary. He recommended the new bill be implemented from October 2017.
The new bill of costs has been the subject of a voluntary pilot in the SCCO since October 2015.
However, the first new-format bill of costs failed to deliver on expected benefits in the first case to see it used, according to Bradley Meads, senior associate at Kain Knight, which acted for the defendants in the case.
Meads told the Gazette that use of the new bill had increased the time spent dealing with costs by 100% – with the claimants having to spend 96 hours retrospectively applying ‘J-codes’ to the work that had been billed.
The practice directions states that the new bill of costs ‘shall be served in the pdf version of Precedent AB and a copy of the spreadsheet version shall also be provided to the paying party and the court by email or other electronic means'.