A Background

In accordance with CPR 3.18 and the ruling of Master Gordon-Saker in the landmark case of BP v Cardiff & Vale University Local Health Board, a compliant Bill of Costs must now identify to which ‘phase’ of the cost management process work belongs.

There have been numerous methods employed to shoehorn this extra information into a traditional format Bills of Cost, some more successful than others. Ultimately however all approaches result in cumbersome documents, preparation and consideration of which is considerably more time consuming and therefore costly than a non-phased Bill of Costs.

With saving expense a critical part of the overriding objective the Rules Committee has put in place its plan to avoid this issue by introducing a new format Bill of Costs.

The Pilot Scheme

Practice Direction 51L provides for a pilot scheme regarding the new format of the Bill, the pilot is expected to run until the 30th September 2017. The new format Bill of Costs is intended to be mandatory from the 1st October 2017 although early impressions suggest there may be considerable reconsideration needed before the full implementation of the new format. Even at this relatively early stage, the compulsory inclusion of J-Codes has already been removed.

Notable Changes

While the specifics of the new format Bill of Costs are not set in stone, a picture is beginning to emerge as to what the new document will look like, a copy of the Precedent AB is available on the Ministry of Justice website. The final document is going to be data heavy with every single item from a routine letter upward being categorised not just into phases, but also tasks and activities which will potentially require further description.

Practice Direction 51L does however provide some leeway in terms of presentation of the Bill of Costs. We are expected to hear more from the CPRC on the ‘final’ format of the new Bill of Costs in around May this year.

Certainly the new format will achieve the aim of allowing easier cross document consideration with any cost budget prepare, whether this will be achieved with a cost saving is far more doubtful.

What we are doing at MRN to help you

At MRN we are well prepared for whatever the outcome of the Pilot scheme. Not only do we have a dedicated taskforce with the specific objective of helping our clients stay ahead of the changes, but following in the footsteps of our extremely successful ‘Prophet Costs’ program we have also begun preparations of a bespoke computerised system to ensure clients are able to present their Bills swiftly and accurately as soon as required.

Should you wish to discuss these changes and the likely impact on your firm, please do not hesitate to contact us.

By Adam Fenton & Matthew Waring