The introduction of mandatory use of the new electronic bill of costs was due to start in October 2017. This has been postponed with the likely date being April 2018. This is to allow for the mandatory use of the new bill of costs to apply in the County Courts as well as the High Court.
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Making the new bill of costs pilot scheme mandatory
The pilot scheme (CPR PD 51L) came into force on 1 October 2015 and has seen two extensions. The second extension in July 2016 saw a rewrite of the practice direction to include the following timetable:
‘1.1A The timetable for this Pilot Scheme is as follows:
(a) the Pilot Scheme in its amended form will come into effect on 3 October 2016 with a view to establishing a mandatory form of bill of costs to apply to all work done after 1 October 2017;
(b) the Rule Committee will monitor and review the Pilot Scheme and aim to fix the mandatory form of the new bill of costs at its meeting in May 2017.’
The CPR Committee meeting minutes of May 2017 agreed for it to become mandatory in October 2017. However, on 21 June 2017 the Ministry of Justice advised that this date had been postponed. Following on from that on 22 June 2017 it circulated the documents put before the CPR Committee at its June 2017 meeting. The documents set out why the position has changed and a proposed date for the scheme to become mandatory was given as 6 April 2018. However, there has been no confirmation from the Ministry of Justice that the 6 April 2018 date, as set out in the papers, was the date agreed on at the meeting.
The reason for the further delay is the extension of the use of the new bill of costs to the County Courts and the additional time required to ensure that the implementation can be effective eg IT systems in place and training for judges. For the rationale behind the proposed 6 April 2018 date, see:
For information as to the background for making the pilot scheme mandatory, see documents:
Note that no information has been forthcoming as to whether the voluntary pilot scheme itself will now be extended for a third time until 5 April 2017, although that is likely.
Why it is the pilot scheme to be made mandatory
The introduction of a mandatory bill of costs has been fraught with difficulties and the feedback on its introduction has been mixed. The recommendation to make it mandatory was set out for the CPR Committee in the following document at :
Changes to CPR 47 and CPR PD 47
The mandatory use of the new bill of costs will require amendments to both CPR 47 and the associated practice direction. Proposed changes put before the CPR Committee were relatively small. The proposed changes are set out in the two documents below. Please note that the Ministry of Justice, in circulating these documents, specifically stated that:
‘Please note that not all the rule and practice direction amendments agreed by the Committee are contained in the drafts.’
Explanations for the changes proposed are set out in the following document at  onwards:
New bill of costs—precedent S
The following spreadsheets were provided to the CPR Committee:
Alexander Hutton QC, who had led much of the work on the introduction of the electronic bill of costs has been clear that once in place other costs documentation within civil proceedings would be looked at. The paper setting out why the scheme should be mandatory refers to summary assessment with the recommendation that:
‘ if the new bill is to be made mandatory the next logical step is to consider whether to make amendments to form N260—the statement of costs used for summary assessment—in order to bring it into line with the new bill format. It makes good sense (and Jackson LJ always envisaged) that this would be one of the tasks to undertake once this reform had taken place. A number of users made the same point to members of the sub-committee. The sub-committee is willing to take this forward if the CPRC wish us to do so.’
We will have to wait for the minutes of the June 2017 CPR Committee meeting to see whether this recommendation is to be taken forward.
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