Practice Direction 51x Pilot Scheme
Using the N260A and N260B Forms
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What is Practice Direction 51X (PD 51X)?
Practice Direction 51X is a pilot scheme that is due to last for three years. The scheme started on 1st April 2019 and is due to end on 31st March 2022, although it was initially due to end in March 2021. PD 51X is in relation to statements of costs submitted for summary assessment.
It should be noted that whenever an order is made for costs (except fixed costs), the Court will consider whether it is appropriate to make a Summary Assessment at the end of any Fast Track Trial or at the end of any hearing that is completed within one day (this is common for application hearings for example). Where it is deemed appropriate to undertake a summary assessment, this task will be undertaken by the Judge hearing the application or the case.
It therefore falls as the duty of the parties to assist the Judge in this task. It is the responsibility of the parties to file and serve a written Statements of Costs within 24 hours of a hearing, or atleast two working days prior to any Fast Track Trial (CPR 44 PD 9.5(4)). Under PD 51X this will be in a schedule form to show the total costs claimed, including the number of hours incurred, the disbursements, the hourly rates utilities. The statement of costs should normally follow Form N260 however, under PD 51X the N260A and N260B have been developed to coincide with budgeting.
The new form N260s also allow easier cross referencing with Bills produced under PD 47.5(1). This requires an electronic bill to be served for Detailed Assessment in Multi-Track cases relating to any costs which are recoverable inter-partes for all work undertaken after 6 April 2018.
Under PD 51X, the parties now have the option to use new forms, being Form N260A at the end of an application hearing or Form N260B, where the Statement of Costs is for Trial.
Paragraph 5 of the Practice Direction provides the difference between these new forms and the traditional N260:
“… created from electronic time records by filtering the time that is recovered under the activity described in Schedule 2 to PD 47 as”10-Plan, Prepare, Draft, Review”. This may then be sorted and presented first by grade of fee earner and then chronologically”.
Both the new N260 forms are available to be completed in PDF form or electronic spreadsheet. When filing form N260B, there is a requirement to file a Precedent Q, used in a Cost Budget and costs management process to show the amount of costs claimed in each phase of the proceedings.
Form N260A is similar in format to a traditional Bill of Costs without the need for a narrative.
What is the Purpose of Practice Direction 51X?
The overhaul of the N260 forms brings them more into line with the new electronic bills which are now routinely utilised for budgeted/Multi-Track type matters. The aim for the future may also be to allow time recording to be exported directly into the electronic N260 forms, as is possible in many modern day case management systems such as Proclaim, LEAP and others. There is a possibility the new electronic forms for Summary Assessment may become mandatory (which was due to be considered in April 2021) to use and may be implemented in the Civil Procedure Rules in due course as such a requirement in place of the current N260.
It should be noted that previous pilot schemes, such as that of the Capped Costs List under PD 51W, related to certain Courts only, such as the property courts. This pilot scheme can be used for any Court, but again, it is voluntary.
However, the new electronic Statements of Costs are more complicated than the current N260 as it stands. As they are used for summary assessment, it may be found that the task is made more difficult when using the new forms, thus defeating the object of Summary Assessment. Use of technology and ensuring instruction of a costs expert will inevitably assist in overcoming any obstacles in utilising the new N260 forms.
How Can ARC Costs Assist?
ARC Costs are an experienced and independent team of Costs Lawyers and Costs Draftsmen. We regularly assist both paying and receiving parties in costs dispute resolution, to ensure the best outcome on costs is achieved for our instructing party.
As part of our services, we regularly assist in the preparation of N260s, whether that be the new format N260A or N260B under Practice Direction 51X, or the current form as it stands. If you are successful in a case and seek recovery of your costs, we can also assist in the preparation of your Bill of Costs (both electronic bills and paper form bills). Furthermore, we hold experience in the costs budgeting process regularly assist with the preparation of Costs Budgets, Precedent R’s and providing advocacy services at any Costs Case Management Conference on your behalf.
We can also provide representation at detailed assessment hearings and assist in the summary assessment process.
Once costs orders have been made and a Bill of Costs served, we hold extensive experience in conducting efficient costs negotiations between the parties and preparing detailed legal arguments to dispute a Bill of Costs or defend one.
Should you require our assistance further or wish to discuss your costs query with us, please contact one of the team on firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch with one of our experts on 01204 397302.