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05 November 2015
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US experience “points to need for Costs Lawyers in J-Codes process”

The US experience shows the critical role Costs Lawyers need to play as the J-Codes and new format bill increasingly come into use in generating bills, it has been claimed.

The Senior Courts Costs Office began the voluntary pilot of the new format bill last month with a view to it eventually becoming mandatory, although not before October 2016.

Joe Rose, Senior Costs Lawyer and London office manager of A&M Bacon, said that while the theory behind the J-Codes was sensible, “there are many pitfalls, as US practitioners have subsequently discovered”. 

He explained: “The aim is to reduce the amount of costs incurred in preparing a bill of costs at the conclusion of the case. The J-Codes are based on the UTBMS Codes, which have been in place in the US for 20 years. However, many in the US now believe that the UTBMS Codes should be dispensed with altogether because their lack of consistency has resulted in a significant amount of wasted time and the resulting data being of little use.”

Mr Rose said that one legal auditor estimated that, from an initial 90% of US lawyers using the system, the figure has fallen to 10% today.

He said: “If UK firms are going to use the codes, either the fee-earner themselves or an experienced costs expert needs to be inputting them. But it doesn’t make commercial sense for fee-earners to do this, as they can claim a higher hourly rate for fee-earning work. This is why costs experts are the perfect solution, with lower hourly rates matched to greater expertise.”


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