In less than a month, bills of costs will have to be filed in the new electronic spreadsheet format. It’s been a while coming, as the original start date of October 2017 had to be put back to ensure the IT infrastructure at County Courts could handle electronic bills.
The aim of the new bill is to bring transparency and clarity to costs: the greater level of detail means padding cannot be hidden, and scrutiny is more straightforward.
But, of course, this extra detail has to come from somewhere! Time recording will be at the heart of this detail, so impeccable habits will be necessary or accuracy will be compromised. Unsurprisingly, there are concerns about the additional administrative work created.
As with the introduction of any new process and technology, teething problems are anticipated as parties and courts get to grips with the new bill.
Time to get ready!
For anyone who needs to get up to speed with the workings of the new bill, Central Law Training is delighted to present a new course delivered by Claire Green. Claire is a costs lawyer and a member of the Hutton Committee responsible for the preparation of the new bill, so she’s ideally placed to explain the rationale and how the bill works in practice. Most importantly, you’ll also have the opportunity to try your hand at completing your own bill.
Find out more about Claire’s course, which runs in London on 10 April and Birmingham on 18 April, here: http://www.clt.co.uk/course/costs-get-ready-for-the-new-electronic-bill/
All time entries will have to be allocated to a ‘phase’, ‘task’ and ‘activity’ – each enabling the person looking at the electronic bill to view it at different levels of ‘zoom’. ‘Phases’ offer a broad picture, while ‘activities’ capture the detail. It seems that every item – even routine correspondence – needs to be individually dated and assigned; so there is a big risk that the new bill will significantly increase the time spent on inputting costs-related information. Let’s face it, time recording is not what any solicitor joins the profession to do. It is a necessary evil and something that fee-earners want to get done in the quickest way possible. Are lawyers suddenly going to develop perfect habits on 6 April?