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There appears to be some confusion over the role the new J-Codes will play and whether it will be compulsory to use case management software that incorporates the J-Codes. I am therefore grateful to Alexander Hutton QC, who sits on the committee responsible for developing the new bill of costs format, for the following comments:
“It is not mandatory to use the J-Codes now, nor is it planned that it shall ever be so. Many one-man/woman band solicitors and certainly many litigants in person may be unlikely ever to do so. All that is planned is that there will be a model bill of costs in the relevant Practice Direction just like there is now but which will be our committee’s recommended bill based on the J-Code time recording system (although it will be able to construct from scratch not having used the J-Codes, just as now). It will however be much easier to prepare a bill like this having time recorded by the J-Codes, as it will not involve reinventing the wheel by a costs draftsman drafting a bill from scratch, but instead using the time recording system itself to generate both a Precedent H form and a bill of costs, and where the bill can easily be compared to whatever was allowed in the approved budget in relation to each phase.
That is the plan. It is obviously up to others if and when that plan comes in. While the senior judiciary have approved the J-Codes in principle, they have no official status at the moment in the rules. If and when the model bill of costs is changed in the rules to ours (and obviously that is up to others ultimately), then those who have been using the J-Codes from now will have a much easier time of it. But ultimately, at this stage, all we have done is publish them and it is up to others to use them or not as they see fit.”