The Law Society is asking members how they record their time to discover which members are already using J-Codes, and to gauge practitioners’ awareness of of a new format bill of costs.

In his Review on Civil Litigation Costs: Final Report (PDF), Lord Justice Jackson observed that currently:

  • bills are expensive, cumbersome to draw and not easy to digest;
  • available technology is not used;
  • bills do not contain all the necessary information; and
  • there are mismatches between recorded time and the bills being produced.

Lord Justice Jackson recommended that a new format bill of costs should be devised which is more transparent, provides a user-friendly synopsis of work done, and is inexpensive to prepare. It is envisaged that a new process would be used for recording time and capturing information, allowing the automatic generation of bills and schedules for detailed and summary assessment using compatible computer software.

The Hutton Committee has been engaged in the following.

1. the development of a set of universal time-recording codes for litigation cases in England and Wales (‘J-Codes’). Access the J-Codes

2. Designing a new format for bills of costs for detailed assessment.

In July 2014, the J-Codes were approved by Lord Dyson, Lord Justice Jackson and Master Hurst. At the end of July 2015, the Hutton Committee published a template new bill of costs and accompanying guidance. In October 2015, Practice Direction 51L brought into force a voluntary pilot scheme for the new bill format which is set to run until 30 September 2016.

Information captured using J-Codes can be used by firms to prepare costs budgets more efficiently, and monitor actual costs against budgets, as well as for detailed and summary assessment.

The purpose of this survey is to:

  • learn more about how members record their time and discover which members are already using J-Codes to time record;
  • gauge practitioners’ awareness of and support for the new format bill of costs and the Senior Courts Costs Office voluntary pilot scheme; and
  • enable members to say what training needs they have and how training can best be delivered.

The survey closes on Friday 3 June.