7 April 2022

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News in brief: ACL office move, Fixed costs timetable, CoP bill delays

ACL office move

The ACL office will be closed for a few days from late Thursday 14 April through to early afternoon on Wednesday 20 April to enable a change of premises.

From 19 April, the new address will be: Inspire House, 1 Vinces Road, Diss, Norfolk IP22 4HQ.

Fixed costs timetable not yet fixed

The timetable to introduce the expanded regime of fixed recoverable costs (FRC) has not been settled yet, according to the Civil Procedure Rules Committee.

According to the minutes of its March, Mr Justice Trower said the costs sub-committee held its first meeting on the drafting the rules necessary to implement the expansion on 2 March.

“Trower J paid tribute to the expertise within the sub-committee, which was enhanced by way of two co-opted members: District Judge Simon Middleton and Andrew Parker of DAC Beachcroft. A precise timetable for substantive reporting to the CPRC and ultimate implementation was yet to be fixed.”

Trower J also said that a “further” consultation on qualified one-way costs shifting was “anticipated”, while the sub-committee would also consider FRC in the context of vulnerable witnesses and parties.

“A substantive review of the structure of CPR part 45 was also envisaged, subject to a current review on costs by the Civil Justice Council,” the minutes recorded.

SCCO update on Court of Protection bill delays

The latest update from the Senior Courts Costs Office (SCCO) on the backlog of Court of Protection cases, sent this week, said costs officers were now being assigned bills for which supporting papers were received in or after the beginning of October.

In terms of e-filings that have been submitted, but not yet accepted or rejected, it is working on those submitted around the second week of February and certificates submitted in the last week of March.

As a result, the SCCO has asked users not to chase the progress of any bills for which supporting paperwork was submitted around or after the beginning of October, any e-filing not yet accepted/rejected that was submitted after late January, and final costs certificates where less than two weeks have passed since receiving confirmation of acceptance.

It said: “We do understand how frustrating delays can be for our customers and staff are working hard to improve the situation. The reduction in chasing queries is helping us to focus the maximum resource possible on clearing the backlog.”

The update also clarified that there was some delay between the bill being assigned to the costs officer and it being sent out by the admin team. Therefore, whilst bills pre-dating late September were likely to have been assessed, they may not necessarily have reached the despatch stage yet. The admin team is currently sending out assessed bills returned by costs officers in the last week of February.