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:
- 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.
- 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?