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New Format Bill of Costs, by Louise Spurdle (Chester)

I read in the media today that Lord Justice Jackson is calling for a new format bill of costs to become mandatory for all work by October 2017. A voluntary pilot began in October 2015 and continues until December 2016. How many solicitors/costs firms are involved in the pilot is not clear.

LJ Jackson also stated that criticisms of the new bill of costs were, for the most part, unfounded.

What I found at least as interesting as the article were the two pages of readers’ comments. Most – not surprisingly - were anonymous. All, without exception, were critical of the new bill format, the present costs budgeting system (and its impact on the present bill format) and LJ Jackson himself. Here are some choice excerpts (with thanks to all those who unwittingly contributed):

“Who actually elected this man to dictate litigation policy? His reforms up to now have done enough damage. Quit meddling and stick to judging.”

“What did we do to deserve this? Someone who has [not] and will never have anything to do with costs budgeting, forecasting, assessing etc. gets to set the rules with complete abandon and announces that this or that novel and uncalled for operation will be easy…”

“The Hutton format bill is a disaster. There is actually nothing wrong with the old format bill. It is budgeting that has caused this mess.”
“LJ Jackson is of no benefit to anyone.”

“Costs budgeting had admirable aims but was very badly executed.”

“Costs budgets have to be incorporated in the present bill of costs format which equates to a tenfold increase in the number of parts in a bill of costs making it impenetrable to read and impossible to assess the reasonableness or otherwise of costs.”

“The real problem with the J-codes is that Hutton et al were forced to use the useless costs budgeting format.”

“Stop interfering please LJ Jackson and let us get on with representing clients and being paid reasonable costs.”

“A simpler way to end the “deadlock” may be to simply scrap the J-code bill and stick with what we’ve got.”

“ ‘Outdated, time-consuming and unfit for purpose’ – oh the irony of the statement from that man…”

I think it’s safe to say that there is some very bad feeling out there. Is anyone listening, though?
Appetite for obstruction
The Sheffield Legal Walk

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