Breaking news! – 92nd Update to CPR includes provisions for compulsory use of new (electronic) model bill of costs (Costs Precedent S)

The voluntary pilot scheme for the new model bill of costs commenced on 3 October 2015. There was almost no uptake and the scheme was extended by a further year by the CPR Committee ‘with a view to establishing a mandatory form of bill of costs to apply to all work done after 1 October 2017’.

Following concerns raised about the new model bill’s reliance on J-Codes the original new model (Form AA) was revised. The next new model (Form AB) was similar to AA but was decoupled from J-Codes allowing the user to create its own version of the spreadsheet, provided that it caters for certain minimum levels of information (essentially the user can opt for its own version of J-Codes).

Having announced in May of this year that the use of the bill of costs would become compulsory in the SCCO from October 2017, the Civil Procedure Rule Committee had a change of heart just one month later. Notwithstanding that only three or four new model bills of costs have ever been filed at the SCCO, the Committee decided that mandatory use of the new bill should be put back until 6 April 2018, but rolled out across the SCCO and all county courts.

Amendments to practice directions supporting the 92nd and 93rd updates to the Civil Procedure Rules are now available on www.justice.gov.uk (published just last week). CPR 47.6 is amended to provide for filing of electronic and/or paper versions of the new model bill of costs (the name has been changed again – to ‘Costs Precedent S’). Against the expectations of many (the writer included) the new model electronic bill will indeed become compulsory for most cases and in relation to costs incurred after 6 April 2018.

The majority of the amendments relating to the new model bill of costs are made to Practice Direction 47. In relation to work undertaken after 6 April 2018 (the transition date) the new electronic bill of costs must be used in relation to Part 7 multitrack claims except for cases subject to a fixed scale costs, or where the receiving party is unrepresented, or where the court has otherwise ordered.

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 PD), or ‘in any other spreadsheet format’ provided that it:

(a) reports and aggregates costs based on the phases, tasks, activities and xpenses defined in Schedule 2 to this 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.

Where costs were incurred both before and after the transition date the receiving party is given the option to serve and file either a paper bill or an electronic bill for the pre-transition date costs, but must use the electronic bill format for the balance.We look forward to assisting our clients with the transition to Precedent S over the coming months.

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Afqar Dean

Costs Lawyer & Director of Legal Costs

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