J Codes

Update on J-Codes and Model Form Bill of Costs for England and Wales

It is our understanding that as the judiciaries of England and Wales move ahead with the electronic form bill of costs, it is no longer required that attorneys use the J-Code task and activity codes when recording their time or in the new model form bill-of-costs itself (the nBOC).  HOWEVER attorneys are required to use the hierarchy established in the J-Codes (in other words, use the J-Code task and activity code headings) in the nBOC, or use  an alternate time categorization system for litigation in England and Wales in the nBOC that is permissible by the court, in the same way as the J-Codes are and that it is at least as good as the J-Codes.  The J-Codes are inherently permissible, being drafted by the judiciaries own Hutton Committee in collaboration with the LOC and authorized by three leading judges.

While firms can establish their own code numbering schema using the J-Code hierarchy, THEY MUST ALSO provide a worksheet in the electronic form bill of costs that translates the codes used into the headings.

The LEDES Oversight Committee recommends that firms simply use the J-Codes as elaborated here, as most firms will be familiar with the phases and tasks and also using UTBMS codes when recording their time.

More on the timescale for mandatory use of the nBOC:  Our last information is that the usage of the nBOC was to become mandatory at the beginning of October 2017 and it will need to be used for all work done after that date.  However, it is also understood that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have advised it to become mandatory beginning 06 April 2018 (to allow for the mandatory use of the nBOC in county courts as well as high court).  Given this, we advise firms to check for themselves on the go-live ‘mandatory use of the nBOC’ date.

Irrespective of the actual go-live date of the nBOC, it is going to happen soon.  It would be prudent for law firms to consider implementing the J-Codes or an alternative but equal system as soon as possible, so that time is recorded using appropriate task and activity codes, which will in turn enable the easier production of the nBOC at the close of the case when it will be required (assuming of course, the case is won).  This will then wield the advantages of the nBOC in terms of time and cost savings in its production.

Law firms are encouraged to find out more about the new model form bill of costs for themselves.  Please visit the judiciaries website for official information before making any decisions.

Update on Model Form Bill of Costs in England and Wales

LEDES Oversight Committee Standards Board Member David Nelson reports:

For all law firms that conduct civil litigation in England and Wales, Lord Justice Jackson delivered a keynote speech at the Law Society’s Civil Litigation conference yesterday (Thu 21st April 2016) regarding the new Bill of Costs and the J-Codes.  The text of Lord Justice Jackson’s speech is available here: Jackson talk on new bill of costs.21.4.16

Background for your information: 

As you may be aware, the judiciary in England and Wales asked Lord Justice Jackson to conduct a review of the way costs are presented to and assessed by the courts. This was known as the Jackson Review of Civil Litigation Costs in England and Wales, simply referred to as the ‘Jackson Review’.

Several recommendations were made by Jackson LJ in his final report in the area of the inter-parte Bill-of-Costs, with the aim of reducing the preparation lead-times involved in producing the bill and improving the assessment of it (and reducing the time it takes to assess).

A committee was set-up to work on realising these recommendations, now known as the Hutton Committee – it is chaired by Alex Hutton QC and its members consist of representatives from a broad section of the legal industry, including Costs’ Lawyers, a Costs’ Judge; Legal Firms and company directors, and a representative from the ACL.  The LOC participated by virtue of having David Nelson (LOC standards director) serving as the project coordinator on the Committee.

The committee delivered two work products – 1: the J-Codes and 2: the new model form Bill-of-Costs (for inter-parte costs to be presented to the court at the conclusion of the case). The J-Codes were ratified by the LOC in September 2014 and are a valid UTBMS standard. They can be used for eBilling if the client requires them and the vendor has them configured (the LOC hopes that they have by now). The new Bill-of-Costs is currently under voluntary pilot in the SCCO (Senior Courts Costs’ Office) until October 2016.

Much has appeared in the legal press about both the J-Codes and the new Bill-of-Costs, and there has been controversy which is too much to cover in this announcement.

The important take-away is that the new Bill-of-Costs is on the horizon, so law firms in England and Wales need to review it accordingly and consider how and when to start using it. Reviewing LJ Jackson’s speech may help in this decision making process.

EW-UTBMS Litigation ‘J-Code-Set’ for Use in England and Wales is Now Available

The LEDES Oversight Committee (“LOC”) has endorsed the new UTBMS Litigation Code-set for use in England and Wales – the EW-UTBMS J-Code-set.

Created by the Jackson Steering Committee for use within the judiciaries of England and Wales, the release of these codes marks the first stage in the Steering Committee’s objective to develop a new model-form ‘Bill-of-Costs’ for use by the courts in assessing costs to be awarded in litigation cases.

More information on this standard is available here.