Electronic Bill of Costs: FAQ’s 2022

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What is an Electronic Bill of Costs?

In order to initiate the detailed assessment process for all multi track cases, a bill of costs must be served on the Paying Party by the Receiving Party with a Notice of Commencement. On receipt, the Paying Party should serve their Points of Dispute and should engage in negotiations as soon as is practicable. Following an update to Practice Direction 47 in 2018, the 3 column bill was replaced in Multi Track matters with a new style Bill of Costs, commonly referred to as the Electronic Bill of Costs.

Use of the new electronic bill of costs was made mandatory in the Senior Courts Costs Office and the County Courts from 6 April 2018.  Where costs are incurred before 6 April 2018, a combination of the old style 3-column bill and new electronic Bill can be utilised.

 

Why was the E-Bill of Costs Introduced?

The changes to Practice Direction 47, and the introduction of Electronic Bills of Costs, were made to make billing less expensive, easier to analyse and more streamlined. They were also intended to make systems and procedures for costs budgeting, costs management, detailed assessment and summary assessment more consistent. It provides more transparency and figures, such as time recordings, can be altered easily and compared to any previously approved Costs Budget.

Although, the Electronic Bill of Costs was intended to provide a more user friendly experience, many Solicitors and those who work in a legal capacity find the new Electronic Bill of Costs difficult to consider and complete, and it does require a good understanding of Excel to utilise to its fullest extent.

 

When is the Electronic Bill of Costs Required?

The new rules apply to Part 7 Multi Track claims where costs are incurred after 6 April 2018. An Electronic Bill of Costs must be used in these cases, with some exceptions as listed below:

  • Fixed costs or scale costs claims
  • Litigant in Person cases
  • When the Court has ordered otherwise (non use of electronic billing can be agreed between the parties to a case)
  • Where the Multi-Track costs claimed are before 6 April 2018, though the electronic bill is mandatory for costs incurred after that date.

 

How Should I Prepare an Electronic Bill of Costs?

Precedent S should be completed for this type of Bill of Costs. A Precedent S is a spreadsheet pro-forma document which has been created for use with the new electronic billing system. This document comprises of 17 sheets which can be completed to provide details of the costs which the receiving party intend to claim.  The Association of Costs Lawyers have also created their own format Electronic Bill which is more user-friendly, and so long as any Electronic Bill complies with the requirements of CPR 47 PD 5.A2 then it will be compliant.

 

Should I get Help in Preparing my Bill?

Bills of Costs are very likely to be challenged, which is why it is vital to get your bill right. If you are entitled to claim costs, whether as a lawyer on behalf of your client, or as a Litigant in Person, you may wish to request the assistance of a Costs Lawyer or Costs Draftsman when preparing an e-Bill of Costs to ensure that the format of the document prepared, and items of costs claimed are compliant, reasonable and proportionate to the case at hand.

Barking, Havering & Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust v AKC [2021] EWHC 2607 (QB) is a recent case demonstrating the perils of getting your Bill of Costs wrong.  When a Bill was served with detail lacking in respect of the relevant fee earners that completed the work, and containing an ambiguous signature to the Bill of Costs, it was ordered that the Bill be re-drawn and re-served, and costs of the decision were awarded to the Paying Party.

Therefore submitting your Bill of Costs without obtaining professional assistance in what has become a very specialist area of law, runs significant risks.

 

How can ARC Costs Assist?

At ARC Costs, our Costs Draftsmen and Costs Lawyers can assist in the preparation, service and negotiation of an Electronic Bill of Costs.

We pride ourselves on our average recovery of 72% of all Bills, achieved in the majority of cases within 1 month of service of the Bill of Costs upon the paying party. 

In addition, our professional service provides as standard:

  • Every Bill is drafted with a high degree of accuracy and is vetted by at least two senior members of staff;
  • Bills are drafted within an SLA of 5 working days as standard up to £25,000 in value;
  • The majority of Bills are negotiated within 1 month of service, and prior to Points of Dispute/Reply being required;
  • Review of every Bill negotiation instruction atleast once per week to ensure progression of the case;
  • That an amicable approach is taken to Bill negotiations, and that the client is advised on every offer received as to the potential risks of rejecting any offer;
  • That an advocate is made available for any detailed assessment hearing if required
  • Fixed and prompt timescales for all litigious steps including issuing Part 8 proceedings, preparing Points of Reply, and lodging any Bill to assessment.

To discuss your costs claim further, please do not hesitate to contact us on 01204 397302 or email one of the team using our email address: info@arccosts.co.uk. Alternatively, you may complete our online enquiry form and we will be in touch to discuss your query further on the same day.

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