New Format Bill of Costs delayed
After months of wrangling between Jackson LJ and the Hutton Committee over the format of the new Bill of Costs and how, if at all, it could be made compatible with the J-Codes, the new format being now enshrined within Precedent AB, and the woeful performance of the pilot scheme for electronic Bills of Costs which operated within the SCCO voluntarily over the last 2 years, yet failed to see a single assessment take place, it was with great fanfare that Jackson LJ and the Civil Procedure Rule Committee (CPRC) announced that the new format Bill of Costs would become compulsory in the SCCO from 1 October 2017.
However, and less than 3 weeks later, the CPRC has confirmed that, whilst the MoJ and Court service remained “…very supportive of the project…” such implementation will be delayed as there were “…practical risks…” in doing so, and that it was therefore prudent to delay “…to ensure that all courts are ready to accept electronic bills of costs”.
It is now envisaged that implementation will be in April 2018, subject to sufficient parliamentary time being available.
Commenting further, the CPRC stated that
“Our view is that the best option is bringing in the amendments to the rules and PDs as planned, but with the date on which the new bill is mandatory pushed back to 6 April 2018. The April date would apply everywhere, i.e. in both the SCCO and the county courts. Note that the SCCO handles detailed assessments for Central London County Court.”
and that it would create “…complexity and a real risk of confusion for court users….” which would be “...undesirable…” if the Bill were to be brought in on differing dates in different courts and that the delay would further allow the relevant IT upgrades to be put in place, along with judicial training.
The relevant Rules changes will go through in October 2017, from which time parties would be able to voluntarily use the new Bill format.