Approval has recently been given to the new J-Codes. These are integral to future case management software that will be used for drafting of costs budgets, costs schedules and bills of costs. As the Jackson Final Report stated, the purpose of the new software included the ability to “automatically generate schedules for summary assessment or bills for detailed assessment as and when required”.
The new bill of costs format (the development of the J-Codes being a necessary part of the process) has yet to be finalised and most commentators expect this to be at least 12-18 months before it will be rolled out.
The new bill of costs format will mirror the various phases that appear within costs budgets. It will therefore be possible to see at a glance (in theory) whether there has been an overspend in any phase.
Unfortunately, we have a further 12-18 months where this is not possible. The process of trying to determine from a bill drafted in the current format whether costs are above or below an approved budget is painful and time-consuming at best and impossible at worst.
Lord Justice Jackson always envisaged that his proposals were a complete package to be implemented in full. Sadly, the problems caused by the piecemeal introduction of costs budgeting and the new bill of costs format is a prime example of what was always likely to happen if this was not followed through.