Phased & Confused
In April, the Association of Costs Lawyers' ‘Costs Lawyer’ magazine published extracts from a roundtable discussion between judges and practitioners to discuss their experiences of costs management so far. With regard to a new bill of costs format that aims to present claim for costs consistently with budgets (i.e. by reference to phases rather than chronology), Alex Hutton QC, Hailsham Chambers said:
“There is a committee working that has produced codes, which are basically similar or the same as the phases. So, every single piece of work you record will automatically be recorded under the code, which would go to CMC, disclosure or whatever. Then, we are working on a model bill of costs. All the work will not have to be manually put in at the end in a huge exercise, as it is at the moment. In theory, it is a relatively easy job because it is all coded and you can put it into a bill”
Doesn’t this require legal practitioners to completely change the way they record time? If so, that is the biggest challenge. If a legal practitioner has a 2 hour meeting with their client to discuss all aspects of their claim, do we really expect them to then record their time by splitting up that 2 hours and say, “Well, 40 minutes was spent on witness statements, 35 minutes on disclosure…” etc etc? And that’s assuming the specific time in such a meeting can be identified in such a way.
Is it me or is it unrealistic to think this is all as simple as it is being made out to be?
By Nick McDonnell, Senior Associate/Costs Lawyer