In 2014, the LEDES Oversight Committee (“LOC”) endorsed the UTBMS Litigation Code-set for use in England and Wales – the EW-UTBMS J-Code-set.
The J-Codes are a set of UTBMS codes developed by the Jackson Steering Committee, working at the behest of the Judiciary of England and Wales, and charged with developing a set of litigation task codes specifically for their own region and industry sector. In this case, the LOC assisted the Jackson Steering Committee (chaired by Alex Hutton QC and project coordinated by David Nelson who is the LOC Standards Coordinator) in developing the J-Codes, as the first stage of their objective to develop a new model-form ‘Bill-of-Costs’ for use by the courts in assessing costs to be awarded in litigation cases.
The development of the J-Codes (and the new model-form-bill-of-costs when it is developed), is a response to a review of civil litigation costs in England and Wales, conducted by Lord Justice Jackson (a very senior judge in the judiciary). The overarching purpose of these codes is to assist courts and other parties in performing analysis of costs at different levels, including the comparison of actual costs to budgeted costs.
Given the above, the primary aim of the new J-Codes is to enable the courts in England and Wales – including Judges and Costs’ Judges – to summarise and analyse time worked and costs incurred by lawyers during a litigation case. This again is a departure from the norm for the use UTBMS codes, as normally they are used in eBills supplied by the law firm to the client. It’s envisaged the J-Codes will be used extensively to analyse the Bill-of-Costs by the losing litigant, in order to minimize their costs.
In terms of implementation – law firms should liaise with their clients to receive instructions, but it is thought law firms with litigation cases being held in the jurisdiction of England and Wales will need to implement the new J-Code-set internally, so that their lawyers are able to record time using the J-Codes. This should be an improvement over the current –L-Codes which they may be using, as the J-Codes accurately reflect the litigation phases in this jurisdiction. Likewise, eBilling vendors will need to implement the new J-Codes, as the law firms will need to record them, and this will enable an easier comparison of client bills to the eventual Bill-of-Costs presented to the courts at the culmination of the case.
The request to the LOC to ratify/endorse the J-Codes was made via a formal letter to the LOC by senior judges in England and Wales, these being Lord Dyson (Master of the Rolls – the 2nd head judge in the country), Lord Justice Jackson (Senior Judge and author of the Jackson Review report), Senior Costs Judge Peter Hurst (Senior Costs Judge in the Judiciary). This underlines the importance of using the codes in litigation cases in England and Wales.
There are two pdf documents regarding the J-Codes,
- Jackson-Review-UTBMS-LitCode-Revision-EW-UTBMS-J-Code-Documentation-and-Guidelines-v5.214.pdf – this is the main guideline document that provides the details of the J-Codes
- Jackson-Reforms-J-Code-Letter-3007142.pdf – this is a letter from the Judiciary of England and Wales requesting LOC ratification/endorsement.
If you have any queries or comments, please email the LOC using the Contact UTBMS option.
(Documentation reproduced with permission of the Jackson Steering Committee)
Additional information 11 September 2014:
The Association of Cost Lawyers has published an article on the endorsement of the J-Codes by the LEDES Oversight Committee. The article can be found here.