Since 6 April 2018, it has been mandatory for the new Electronic Bill of Costs (Precedent S) to be used for all Part 7 Multi Track matters in respect of costs incurred after this date, which replaces the traditional paper bill of costs.
The electronic bill contains a narrative, a chronology, a summary of the legal team and rates and a summary of the bill structure, as well as containing summaries of the base costs and additional liabilities separately and compares the costs in the bill with the last approved /agreed budget, in theory, aiming to eradicate the need to prepare the bill in parts. However, there will be some occasions where the Precedent S will not be used, and they are:
- Where the case is subject to fixed or scale costs;
- Where the receiving party is a litigant in person; or
- The court has ordered otherwise.
As to the format, the Practice Direction provides that the electronic bill can either be in the new model format (a link to a model excel document is included in the Practice Direction), or ‘in any other spreadsheet format’ provided that it:
(a) reports and aggregates costs based on the phases, tasks, activities and expenses defined in Schedule 2 to the Practice Direction;
(b) reports summary totals in a form comparable to Precedent S;
(c) allows the user to identify, in chronological order, the detail of all the work undertaken in each phase;
(d) automatically recalculates intermediate and overall summary totals if input data is changed;
(e) contains all calculations and reference formulae in a transparent manner so as to make its full functionality available to the court and all other parties
It has been stated by the Senior Costs Judge Gordon-Saker that the aim is for courts to become paperless, it is therefore expected that assessments will take place utilising the electronic bill on computer screens at court rather than the paper bill, as a step towards paperless courts.
However, concerns have been raised regarding the additional costs that may be incurred by the fact that the majority of firms will not have such a sophisticated piece of software installed which will allow work to be recorded by Phase, Task and Activity.
Time will only tell how well Precedent S is going to work in practice.
This article is not a definitive statement of the law. It is designed as a free update on the law at the time of publishing. It is not a substitute for legal advice on specific facts and circumstances. BakerLaw LLP and/or the writer accepts no liability or responsibility for reliance on this article and recommends that you seek independent legal advice on your specific circumstances prior to taking any steps.