New bill of costs format

I previously commented (see post) on the possibility of a new bill of costs format emerging as a result of the Lord Justice Jackson’s Civil Litigation Costs Review.

The Senior Courts Costs Office Costs Practitioners Group recent minutes (see link) provided an update:

Proposals for a new format for bills of costs
As a result of the seminar, a working party comprising Master Simons, District Judge Besford and Mr Harman had been set up to look into the format of bills of costs and how improvements could be made. They had consulted with the Costs Judges, the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen and the Regional Costs Judges, who had all provided feedback. The conclusion they had reached, which was to be their recommendation, was that the items claimed as part of the Documents item in a bill of costs should be subdivided according to subject matter, instead of being listed in chronological order. For example, there should be separate subheadings to show the time spent on preparing pleadings, witness statements, preparations for trial etc. This had been put to the firms who prepared software for bills of costs, who saw no problems with this format. The meeting welcomed this proposal as an improvement on what we presently have. However, Mr O’Riordan spoke up on behalf of those who thought that this improvement should go further: the “block time” method could be applied to the whole bill, thus doing away with the need to count individual letters, emails and telephone calls. Where most time was now recorded by solicitors on computerised time sheets, he thought it an anachronism that individual letters, which were sometimes little more than a couple of lines, should be remunerated as a 6 minute unit, when the time sheet would record the actual time spent in any event. Master Simons said that it was the intention of the working party to recommend that email communications were dealt with in this way, but that for routine letters, he felt that showing the total amount of correspondence with a party (i.e. by letter count) was still a useful way of determining whether the amount of work done with that party was reasonable and proportionate or not.”

This recommendation seems likely to be accepted by Jackson LJ.  And the waiting is almost over…

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