The defendant costs specialists

Serving an electronic bill of costs

By on Apr 13, 2018 | 3 comments

We now have compulsory electronic bills of costs.  What we do not have are up to date rules relating to service.

PD 47 para.5.A4, dealing with transitional provisional provisions, makes it clear that the new electronic bill must itself must be served:

“Where a bill of costs otherwise falls within paragraph 5.1(a) but work was done both before and after the Transition Date, 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.”

Although the balance of the rules could be much clear, it is clearly the case that this will apply to all bills that are electronic (ie it is the electronic bill itself that must be served).

The difficulty that arises is that the Practice Direction 6A, that deals with service generally, is very restrictive when it comes to electronic service.

“4.1  Subject to the provisions of rule 6.23(5) and (6), where a document is to be served by fax or other electronic means –

(1) the party who is to be served or the solicitor acting for that party must previously have indicated in writing to the party serving –

(a) that the party to be served or the solicitor is willing to accept service by fax or other electronic means; and

(b) the fax number, e-mail address or other electronic identification to which it must be sent; and

(2) the following are to be taken as sufficient written indications for the purposes of paragraph 4.1(1) –

(a) a fax number set out on the writing paper of the solicitor acting for the party to be served;

(b) an e-mail address set out on the writing paper of the solicitor acting for the party to be served but only where it is stated that the e-mail address may be used for service; or

(c) a fax number, e-mail address or electronic identification set out on a statement of case or a response to a claim filed with the court.

 4.2  Where a party intends to serve a document by electronic means (other than by fax) that party must first ask the party who is to be served whether there are any limitations to the recipient’s agreement to accept service by such means (for example, the format in which documents are to be sent and the maximum size of attachments that may be received).

 4.3  Where a document is served by electronic means, the party serving the document need not in addition send or deliver a hard copy.”

Service of the electronic bill is compulsory but PD 6A para.4.1(1)(a) requires previous written permission from the other side before you can serve electronically.  How can you serve electronically if permission has not been given?

PD 47 para.5.A2 provides a link to the format that an electronic bill may be in but PD 6A para.4.2 appears to allow the other side to dictate the format of an electronic document.

PD 6A para.4.3 states that when serving electronically it is not necessary to also serve a hard copy.  This is directly contradicted by PD 47 para.5.1A which requires a hard copy in addition to the electronic version.

If service needs to be both electronic and in hard copy form, what date do you use for calculating deemed service (which will be different for an emailed document and the copy sent by post/DX)?

There was talk about updating the rules relating to electronic service generally, but it would have been nice if this had happened before electronic bills were made compulsory.

    3 Comments

  1. The intent in the rules is lost and it all flows from para 5.1A PD to CPR 47.

    ‘5.1A Whenever electronic bills are served or filed at the court, they must also be served or filed in hard copy, in a manageable paper format as shown in the pdf version of Precedent S. A copy of the full electronic spreadsheet version must at the same time be provided to the paying party and filed at the court by e-mail or other electronic means.’

    Should read:

    ‘5.1A Whenever electronic bills are served a copy of the full electronic spreadsheet version must at the same time be provided to the paying party by e-mail or other electronic means.’

    ‘5.1B Whenever electronic bills are filed at the court a copy of the full electronic spreadsheet version must at the same time be provided to the court by e-mail or other electronic means.’

    I suspect this was the intention of 5.1A but it is not doable on the current wording.

    Robert Pettitt

    19th April 2018

  2. There are so many problems with sending an editable easily-corruptible document by email containing personal, and delicate, information; to one of several possible email addresses depending which court you use; that it terrifies me how cack handed the implementation of this system is.

    What does amuse me is that the whole driving force behind this change is the aim for faster, cheaper costs assessment; this is going to increase costs and slow down assessment, significantly.

    I only hope that once some Judges have wrestled with these rules and multi-page spreadsheets they all sit down at one of their ivory tower dinners and agree to start issuing new ‘Manchester’ Orders along the lines of, the new format bill be dispensed with on the basis it is shite.

    And/or the whole thing is put quietly to bed next year.

    Dr Catty

    20th April 2018

  3. Here’s a question for a Friday.

    If my case isn’t allocated, even if clearly a MT case, do I need to do an e-bill….

    Alan Pardew

    25th May 2018

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