Introduction of new electronic bill of costs delayed
Costs lawyers warn solicitors not to avoid the inevitable
The Civil Procedure Rule Committee has decided to delay introduction of the new electronic bill of costs on a compulsory basis.
The new bill of costs was due to start in the Senior Courts Costs Office in October 2017, but it has been deferred to ensure that all courts are ready to accept electronic bills of costs.
In a meeting last month month, the committee approved the new bill for detailed assessments and, subject to ministerial approval, its use was expected to become mandatory in the SCCO from 1 October.
The aim now is to implement the new bill in April 2018, but this is subject to the parliamentary timetable.
Responding to the news, Francis Kendall, vice-chairman of the Association of Costs Lawyers, said the profession will welcome more time to get to grips with the electronic bill.
'This delay provides an opportunity both to iron out any remaining glitches and to make the bill more advanced and user friendly.
'Also, rolling it out in all courts '“ rather than having a twin-track approach '“ would be eminently sensible. It is good to see that pragmatic and sensible decisions are being made regardless of any pressure for change.'
However, Kendall said he was concerned that some solicitors will just use the delay to avoid addressing this new approach to billing at all.
'The fact is that an electronic bill of costs is coming sooner or later and lawyers need to be ready.'