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20 January 2022
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News in brief - 20.01.2022

Last chance to fill the vacancies on the ACL Council

The closing date for nominations for the two vacancies on the ACL Council is noon tomorrow (21 January). Supporting the association and the profession is in everyone’s interests and the council is key to that.

There have been two nominations so far – Stephen Averill and Stephanie Donald – and, if more are received, a ballot of members will be held. Email enquiries@costslawyer.co.uk for more details.

 

Court of Appeal to consider bill format

Well-known costs silk Simon Browne QC tweeted this week that the Court of Appeal has granted permission for a second appeal in AKC v Barking and Havering Health Authority [2021] EWHC 2607 (QB).

He wrote: “CA of the view that appellate guidance is required as to contents and presentation of e-bills given significant difference of opinion of costs judges.”

Mrs Justice Steyn ruled that a bill of costs was not properly certified if the signatory’s name was not identifiable, and that a paper bill and an electronic one were defective in not giving the name and status of each fee-earner, and not identifying the work they had done.

 

Electronic bill “not meeting Jackson’s goals”

Blogging Costs Lawyer Simon Gibbs, a partner at Gibbs Wyatt Stone, has pointed out how the electronic bill of costs has not achieved the goals set out by Lord Justice Jackson.

In his latest blog, Mr Gibbs quoted Jackson LJ’s three requirements which had to be satisfied.

First, the bill must provide more transparent explanation than is currently provided about what work was done in the various time periods and why.

Mr Gibbs scored this at three out of 10: while the majority of bills provide more detail as to what and when work was done, “there is nothing within the new electronic bill that assists as to the ‘why’”.

The second requirement was that the bill must provide a user-friendly synopsis of the work done, how long it took and why.

Mr Gibbs gave this just two out of 10, again for not answering the ‘why’. “Further, other than grouping work by phase, there is nothing within the new format that assists in giving an overall picture.

“Indeed, the fact that even a relatively large traditional bill might have run to one hundred items plus schedules, whereas a similar electronic bill might run to thousands of entries, tends to obscure rather than throw greater light on the overall picture.”

Jackson LJ’s final condition was the bill must be inexpensive to prepare. Mr Gibbs scored it with a zero: “No comment needed.”

Comments

Dragon 2   20/01/2022 at 12:09

Totally agree with Mr Gibbs - yet the traditional red-lined bill, if drawn correctly, lends itself to explanations as to "why" - just a pity some "drafters" skimped on their drafting and failed, even, to give precis of timed attendances. Hopefully, this is the beginning of the end of the Prec S bill......

Susan Elizabeth Corbin   21/01/2022 at 10:21

Spot on, Simon. The e-bill is a monster to prepare, draw points to and to assess. Its main function seems to be to prop up the even more pointlessly time-consuming work of fiction, the budget. Shall we return to manageable redline bill, perhaps with more detail in certain places ? I do hope so.

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