The defendant costs specialists

Electronic Bill of Costs

By on Feb 23, 2018 | 7 comments

The new electronic bill of costs becomes mandatory from 6 April 2018.

The relevant transitional provisions state that where work was done both before and after 6 April 2018, a party may serve and file either a paper bill or an electronic bill in respect of work done before that date and must serve and file an electronic bill in respect of work done after that date.

The new electronic bill is not required for all cases.  The circumstances in which bills of costs must be electronic bills are that—

“(a) the case is a Part 7 multi-track claim, except—

(i) for cases in which the proceedings are subject to fixed costs or scale costs;

(ii) cases in which the receiving party is unrepresented; or

(iii) where the court has otherwise ordered; and

(b) the bills of costs relate to costs recoverable between the parties for work undertaken after 6 April 2018 (“the Transition Date”).”

Fast-track cases are presumably excluded from the requirement to be in electronic format because:

  1. Those that are not already subject to fixed fees are likely to become so in the near future with the next wave of the Jackson reforms.
  2. The majority of bills in fast-track cases that are not already subject to fixed fees are likely to be relatively modest in amount meaning there would be little to be gained from insisting they are in electronic format.

However, the wording of the rules clearly means that the relatively large number of higher value cases that settle pre-issue and the further relatively large number of cases that settle post-issue, but pre-allocation, are not required to be in electronic format (as they are not multi-track yet) and can continue to follow good old Precedent A.  I am not sure this is what was intended.  (Assuming the electronic bill is a good thing,) would it not have made more sense to include cases that settle pre-allocation but for an amount in excess of the fast-track limit within the category of claim for which an electronic bill was required?


  1. I am glad this only applies to Pt7.

    My local court has taken over 4 months (and counting) to provide Orders following the issue of Part 8 costs only proceedings. Bills were already prepared in anticipation of the Order – some as far back as October 2017.

    I did not want to do them again!


    23rd February 2018

  2. Thanks Simon. It seems to me that (1) you assume that, when CPR 47 Practice Direction 5.1(a) says “multi-track claim”, it means only a claim that is allocated to the multi-track but (2) the judgment of the Court of Appeal in _Jamadar v Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust_ [2016] indicates that the term actually encompasses claims for which the multi-track is the (most) appropriate track but which have not actually been allocated to any track.

    The judgment is at this link

    At paragraph 25, Lord Justice Jackson wrote “This litigation was self-evidently a multi-track case.”

    Timothy Phillips

    26th February 2018

  3. What…you mean they have implemented rules without giving them actual thought or perhaps running them by those who work in the field that will be affected by the changes….no, I don’t believe that! Not the greatest legal system in the world ™.

    That transitional provision is, in legal parlance, dog sh*t.

    This is going to be a disaster. From any lawyer who expects to ‘one click’ a bill through the paying party costs person scratching their head at the broken codes as they try to check codes and phases to the Judge who doesn’t have the technical knowhow or equipment to properly access it.



    26th February 2018

  4. I have just looked at an electronic bill this morning, whoever is responsible for this complete and utter shambles should hang their head(s) in shame..

    Whenever there is an issue in our profession (and I always thought the issue was the level of costs not the format of the bill), the remedy always seems to overcomplicate the issue and in doing so create more issues. Please get rid of the jobs worth’s and if anyone at the ACL subscribes to this nonsense then you are part of the problem.

    I mean 70 odd pages for a routine-ish case, you couldn’t make it up, I am absolutely flabbergasted. so 2 hour costs assessments will now be 1.5 days because clearly Judges have nothing better to do ……..

    PS Tim keep trying mate, if its not allocated its not allocated.


    27th February 2018

  5. I agree with the poster above- the new electronic bill is an absolute joke. Utterly ridiculous that the ACL supported the move- who wants to look at 70 pages of numbers & formulas? How on Earth is this supposed to work in practice?

    Northern Costs Monkey

    1st March 2018

  6. Judge – How long to draft this bill? 29 hours is outrageous.

    CD – Well Sir/Ma’am, I had to tri-phase apportion each and every item both routine and otherwise; cross check against a ledger; read all content to decide if any items need apportioned; determine said apportionment (across phases and tasks); input line by line into a spreadsheet that has been created within fragile software in someone’s child’s spare time and is prone to known faults; then I need to try and check what is in effect an illegible till receipt; THEN I need to prepare a narrative which no one has read; THEN I need to give thought to good reasons to depart as the budget on which this bill was based has been breached, but the Budget was a BEST GUESS ESTIMATE, prepare over a day, without any useful guidance, for a paltry 1% meaning we did not, and could not, go through the file item by item in the detail of a Bill as to do so would be madness on every level; and approved at the early stages by a Judge who didn’t understand the issues and crippled the litigation by making my client work almost for free; and yet it has been ascribed the same level of accuracy standards as a full Bill meaning in effect, Sir/Ma’am that this entire process which ran perfectly fine in 2012 after a decade of streamlining, has been made both more time consuming, more expensive, and much more of a drain on your resources ESPECIALLY as you have printed it off as you only have one tiny screen so here we are at day 2 on a Bill Oral Hearing that should have been assessed in half a day; AND as an arbitrary cap on PA costs simply encourages a paying party to try keep their chances on any issue of any value no matter the plethora decisions going against them. So, in short, it took a while, yes. Even if the solicitor had undertaken all of this phasing and coding as the case proceeded, it would still have taken extra time to do so, for which they cannot charge save to increase all of the time of file notes, and the final document would have been ever more illegible littered as it inevitably would be with errors. Find anyone else capable of doing it, and I will gladly retire.

    DJ – Noted. This is largely admin data entry work. 3 hours at Grade D allowed. The Solicitor should have bought the case management software.


    2nd March 2018

  7. Has anyone been to the ACL talks about the electronic bill? I am not a great fan of the ACL (and I did not renew this year) but I would have to say that on the face of it, their version is better than the MOJ version. What puzzles me is whether the phasing has to be used in non-budgeted cases?


    6th March 2018

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