30 April 2015

Are you ready for the J Codes

In his final report, Lord Justice Jackson recommended that a new format Bill of Costs should be developed which would be more informative, capable of yielding information at different levels of generality and which would ultimately harmonise the procedures and systems used for costs budgeting and costs management.

It was envisaged by Lord Justice Jackson that software would be developed, which would involve the user time recording and capturing relevant information, which in turn would generate Schedules for Summary Assessment, or Bills for Detailed Assessment, and which would tie in with the relevant costs budgeting phases.

To facilitate the preparation of the new Bill, standardised codes to categorise every activity within the civil litigation process have been developed, which tie in with the costs budget phases. Those standardised codes were submitted to the Judiciary for approval and in turn, have been submitted to the LEDES Oversight Committee, who have formally approved the EW-UTBMS J-Code set for use in England and Wales.

Ultimately it is intended that the J-Codes will be adopted by the legal profession and used at every stage of the Civil Litigation process. Solicitors will record time with reference to the J-Codes directly onto time management systems, which in turn can be fed directly into the new format Bill of Costs for Assessment. The task codes will also help generate phase codes, which will largely replicate the existing phases in Precedent H. Details of the codes can be found at http://utbms.com/jackson-ew-utbms.

It is envisaged that the new format Bill of Costs will be piloted in the not too distant future and whist full implementation of the new Bill format is some way off, work undertaken now could be included in the new style Bill if Solicitors start adopting the J Codes. Firms should therefore be considering whether to update their time recording systems to implement the J Codes and start recording with them.

If you have any queries about the adoption of the J-Codes, or how a Bill of Costs should be prepared in budget cases, please let us know.