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. There are often difficulties for law firms to get the right funding for cases and need to bring in a Costs Management firm to help them. It is hoped this review will help make it easier for the law firms to manage their court costs. 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.