Notice of Commencement of Assessment of Bill of Costs

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What is a Notice of Commencement?

Following the settlement of any Court case, detailed assessment proceedings can be commenced if an agreement as to costs has not been made with a paying party. If this happens, the paying party must be formally served with a Bill of Costs alongside a Notice of Commencement of Bill of Costs before any application is made to have costs assessed and approved.

A Notice of Commencement is served to a paying party alongside the Bill of Costs, stating the amount of legal costs that the receiving party is requesting from the paying party.

The receiving party should use form N252 to serve notice on the paying party. CPR 47 sets out the rules for the procedure for the Assessment of Costs.

In most circumstances, the receiving party should serve the Bill of Costs and the Notice of Commencement of Bill of Costs within three months from the date of any costs order or deemed order as to costs. This can include the filing of a Notice of Discontinuance or the acceptance of a part 36 offer.


What is a Detailed Assessment of Costs?

Detailed assessment is the procedure by which the Court will assess a party’s costs.  If the parties cannot reach agreement of the amount of costs payable, following service of the Notice of Commencement and Bill of Costs, the Court will determine the costs at a Provisional Assessment or Detailed Assessment hearing.


What is a Provisional Assessment of Costs?

Any Bill of Costs which is less than £75,000 would be assessed by way of Provisional Assessment.  This means that the Bill of Costs will be assessed by the Court in the first instance on the papers only (as opposed to an attended detailed assessment hearing).  This is a quicker and more costs effective process, whereby any additional costs of detailed assessment are capped at £1,500 + VAT + Court fee.


What is Required When Serving a Bill of Costs?

To formally serve a Bill of Costs, the receiving party must provide a Notice of Commencement of Assessment of Bill of Costs in form N252. This must be provided alongside a copy of the Bill of Costs.

Copies of fee notes from the Solicitor as well as receipts for expenses or general receipts should also be included in the documents being served on the paying party. The Bill of Costs should also be accompanied by a certified signed back sheet, which should be signed by either a Solicitor or a legal representative, or by the receiving party themselves. This confirms that the Bill of Costs is accurate, and that the indemnity principle has not been breached. 

The Notice of Commencement must be properly served upon a firm of Solicitors who have the authority to accept the service.


What to do if you receive a Notice of Commencement of Assessment of Bill of Costs

If you have received a Notice of Commencement as the paying party, you have 21 days to provide Points of Dispute. If you fail to provide these points, the receiving party may then apply for a Default Costs Certificate.

The Default Costs Certificate will order you to pay all costs in full within 14 days; however, an application to set aside such default cost certificates can be made and may potentially be successful in specific circumstances, such as improper service of the Notice of Commencement of Assessment of Bill of Costs. The Human Rights Act 1998 may also have some impact on applications by individuals to set aside default costs certificates that have been entered against them.  Factors in relation to the Denton Test will also be taken into account, akin to an application for relief from sanctions.


Points of Dispute and Points of Reply

If you do not agree with anything in the Bill of Costs, you should send Points of Dispute detailing the costs that you disagree with, reasons for the same, and any reduced offers that you are prepared to make.

The Receiving Party can then send Points of Reply, and a negotiation of a settlement should be attempted before proceeding to a Detailed or Provisional Assessment Hearing.


How Can ARC Costs help?

ARC Costs are an experienced team of independent Costs Draftsman and Costs Lawyers.  We can assist receiving or paying parties in drafting detailed Bills of Costs, Points of Dispute, and Points of Reply.

At ARC Costs, our Costs Draftsmen pride themselves on their average costs 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.

It is our guarantee that every Bill is drafted with a high degree of accuracy and is vetted by at least two senior members of staff.

Our Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsmen are highly experienced in the recovery of Solicitors and Litigant in Person costs, and all our charges are recoverable from the other side as part of your costs claim.

We can also conduct advocacy on your behalf and provide representation at any Costs and Case Management Conference, or any detailed assessment proceedings, in order to negotiate or have the Court determine the best outcome on your behalf.

We can be contacted via the form at the top of the page, via telephone on 01204 397302 or via email at

For more information on legal costs, you can find out more about our speciality areas of expertise and our services on our legal costs page. 

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