Legal Cost Specialists

New bill of costs format released

The committee developing the new bill of costs format has released the following documents:

Guidance Document

Blank Template

Example Data

Print Version

This was accompanied by the following:

“We are inviting comments/suggestions on the draft new bill of costs by 18.9.15. It is planned that there will be a Practice Direction in force from the start of October 2015 which will enable parties to use the new bill of costs in cases in the SCCO instead of the existing model (although at this stage there is no requirement to use the new bill, only that it is voluntary and you would not be in breach of the rules if you adopted it). The longer term plan at present is that there will be a pilot in all SCCO cases where the costs order giving rise to the right to costs has been made on or after 1st April 2016 where the new bill of costs will be the recommended form of bill in place of the existing model.

Please email any such comments or suggestions to and (both please) by 4pm on 18.9.15. Please do not expect an instant response from us as we will be collating comments together and considering them as a whole. But we value your help in hopefully improving the current draft of the new bill. Please also read the guidance documents carefully before you email as some of the answers to queries may well be in them.”

32 thoughts on “New bill of costs format released”

  1. Cash the Pigeon

    A lottery syndicate?

    As long as we get a lucky dip. Seems appopriate as machines could be picking all the numbers soon enough…

  2. Nameless Costs Lawyer

    I don’t think it would be too controversial to suggest that the proposed new Bill of Costs is about as non user friendly as Form H and more worryingly, 10 times more overly complicated. Not only less work for the costs world but even more mundane. #p45

  3. the format is unwieldy, very confusing and will be rejected by the majority of DJ’s assessing

    the reliance on fee earners accurately inputting codes and recording time is frankly madness. The comment in the “guide” that most firms use time recording systems may be true, but ignores the fact that the majority of those who do, either don’t put in times, or worse, rely on times set by management (as opposed to the actual time spent). I was aghast at the continued fallacy that estimated times don’t get by after “Brush” – clearly ignoring what that actually said, and clearly not living in the real world of solicitors recording and costs

    Overall, the “system” will rely on IT, not people, and will fail for its fallacies. The only short term “winner” will be the person(s) with a vested interest in promoting something reliant on IT, as they already promote their own product. Turkeys voting for Xmas? Methinks not…

  4. The proposed form merely seeks to shift the burden of costs allocation from a costs draftsman (at a charge) to the solicitor (presumably as part of the overheads).

    Iif everyone fills it in right and alters their work method to fit the bill, it does achieve the outcome of setting out costs in a more transparent form. However, it is laughable to suggest that it will be more efficient or cost effective.

    In fact it encourages solicitors to breakdown their work to fit the parts. So, for example, a single unit letter to a client that might straddle 3 j-codes will encourage the generation of 3 letters. Instructions to Counsel to advise in conference and then go on to prepare something will be prepared as separate instructions. ‘Clumping together’, which the guidance note is critical of, can be a smoke screen for inefficiency, but it can also be a sign of efficient task stacking.

    As Costs Chimp hints at, this is a move towards fixed costs. If they wanted to be honest bills would just follow the budget format + narrative and the court could just decide whether the totals are reasonable. This would be a more progressive step towards fixed costs.

  5. The whole thing has been an omnishambles ever since Jackson first prepared his tedious History of Costs.

    This is a document prepared by people who really don’t understand how a solicitor’s practice works and have clearly not properly researched, or have ignored, the balls-up that the US J-codes caused. Luckily, whilst DJ’s may tow the line, my crystal ball tells me 95% of firms will take one look at this, and J Codes, and ignore both for the waste of time they are (or they will send their file out to be retrospectively fitted into these codes so they don’t need to work with a glossary of codes stamped on their eyes).

  6. redlinebillgates

    For all those who still think there is a future ……

    the next steps are likely to be:-

    1) Provisional Assessment threshold increase (to say £100k).
    2) Parties previous budgets to go in d/a or p/a bundle.
    3) All costs to be assessed by comparison and not so much objection. Costs of d/a procedure to be fixed at slightly higher level than p/a to discourage those that make it up (yes you know who you are).
    4) Small claims track for injury raised to (£1,500 to £2,000). (Access to Justice is a debacle, the government are skint and they don’t care anymore).
    5) Large costs cases referred or pushed towards mediation.

    So the ACL make themselves , Mediators, Costs Assessors and potentially Q.C’s and the rest of us are in run off……. apart from those people who call themselves “advocates” who go along to Court to say a few clever words, carry Counsel’s Brief and fetch sandwiches.

    I wonder whether my skills are transferable? Wonder whether there are any jobs going on the rules committee?

  7. I do wonder how a busy practitioner can be expected (a) to know which phase is the most appropriate one to which their time should be allocated, when nobody else seems entirely sure, and (b) to have the patience to break down that time into all its separate J-code ingredients, when they’d prefer just to get on with the work. I therefore think that costs draftsmen need not be too despondent; they will still have a role, even if it is that of a J-cloth, mopping up the mess at the end.

  8. The irony of the new format is that wiith only a handful of practitioners currently recording their time in J-Codes drafting a Bill in the new style format which it is suggested is high recommended (especially if you want to recover the cost) will no doubt prove to be less accurate than the current seemingly outdated version…utter farce
    How on earth the powers that be effectively let one independent costs firm effectively run this project with other committee members chipping in with beyond me…takes the phrase self serving to a different level

  9. @ Sir Francis Drake

    well done Sir! I’m sure the owner will wish to share the software for free, with all the members they represent, to ensure their continued profession

  10. Aside from the concerns with regard to the format of the bill, thanks to Sir Francis Drake for bringing the software to our attention. Was the owner of the company involved in the consultations with regard to the J-codes, if so this is very convenient!!??

  11. If ‘Anonymous’ would like to email me I would probably be able to reassure him or her on a few things, especially insofar as vested interests are concerned. As the report said I don’t think any of the members are precious about criticism – just hoping for a bit more light and less unnecessary heat.

  12. another anonymous post

    the issue re declarations of interest has been raised on the ACL forum and there are several strings regarding it, to date with no satisfactory response.

    readers may be interested in the ‘open’ letter to the ACL regarding members issues

  13. Following on from the post from another anonymous.

    On the Friday 31st May 2013 a council meeting of the Association of Cost Lawyers took place at De Vere Holborn Bars.
    Within the minutes of this council meeting at paragraph 4 it reads:-

    4. Declarations of Interest

    The Chairman said that if any council member has an interest they should declare it. This information should be put on the ACL website. The Chairman said he could not define what should be declared; it was down to the individual. He suggested that council members should look at the Law Society website for guidance. Declarations should be provided to Diane Pattenden within 14 days (ie by 14 June 2013).

    Since the 31/05/13 there have been various changes as to the council members. At present no declaration of interest is visible on the ACL website despite the Chairman on the 31/05/13 stating that this information should be put on the ACL web-site.

  14. @ anonymous 06.08.15 10:53

    don’t be silly! When has anyone from the ACL openly said anything, reassurance or otherwise??

    For my part, why the ACL has continued to allow this to go on without full disclosure, is atypical

  15. I intend to send feedback to Hutton & Co as they have requested.They cannot possibly proceed with this unwieldy, unworkable and unnecessarily complicated proposed Bill in light of such criticism from people who prepare Bills of Costs for a living on a daily basis.

    If they think this proposed Bill is the answer then they are clearly not living in the real world. The fact that this comes as no surprise perhaps should be concerning.

    At least we can trust the ACL to remain reassuringly silent on the issue.

  16. The present situation can not be allowed to continue. It is evident who the new model bill will and will not benefit.

    Intentions and interests aside, this format will not work and the leading professional body in the field is currently supporting it in spite of the views of its members.

  17. OK Anonymous – here’s a counter suggestion. You email me and put questions; then you can post my answers here if you want; and I won’t reveal your identity. But I am not going to engage with you on detail unless I know who you are. Personally I don’t owe anyone an explanation, least of all an anonymous poster on Simon’s blog. So have the courage of your convictions and we can converse. Deal?

  18. get the email address up then Andy

    ps we all have more than enough courage in our convictions, just aren’t self publicists

  19. methinks someone may have posted in the wrong blog – have you seen the one Simon started called “Empty Threats” 😉

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top