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It is our understanding that as the judiciaries of England and Wales move ahead with the electronic form bill of costs, it is no longer required that attorneys use the J-Code task and activity codes when recording their time or in the new model form bill-of-costs itself (the nBOC). HOWEVER attorneys are required to use the hierarchy established in the J-Codes (in other words, use the J-Code task and activity code headings) in the nBOC, or use an alternate time categorization system for litigation in England and Wales in the nBOC that is permissible by the court, in the same way as the J-Codes are and that it is at least as good as the J-Codes. The J-Codes are inherently permissible, being drafted by the judiciaries own Hutton Committee in collaboration with the LOC and authorized by three leading judges.
While firms can establish their own code numbering schema using the J-Code hierarchy, THEY MUST ALSO provide a worksheet in the electronic form bill of costs that translates the codes used into the headings.
The LEDES Oversight Committee recommends that firms simply use the J-Codes as elaborated here, as most firms will be familiar with the phases and tasks and also using UTBMS codes when recording their time.
More on the timescale for mandatory use of the nBOC: Our last information is that the usage of the nBOC was to become mandatory at the beginning of October 2017 and it will need to be used for all work done after that date. However, it is also understood that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have advised it to become mandatory beginning 06 April 2018 (to allow for the mandatory use of the nBOC in county courts as well as high court). Given this, we advise firms to check for themselves on the go-live ‘mandatory use of the nBOC’ date.
Irrespective of the actual go-live date of the nBOC, it is going to happen soon. It would be prudent for law firms to consider implementing the J-Codes or an alternative but equal system as soon as possible, so that time is recorded using appropriate task and activity codes, which will in turn enable the easier production of the nBOC at the close of the case when it will be required (assuming of course, the case is won). This will then wield the advantages of the nBOC in terms of time and cost savings in its production.
Law firms are encouraged to find out more about the new model form bill of costs for themselves. Please visit the judiciaries website for official information before making any decisions.
As part of our campaign called “Disrupting the Ebilling Status Quo,” the LEDES Oversight Committee posted a survey to collect feedback from the legal industry to identify issues experienced by each constituency participating in ebilling — vendors (of third party ebilling systems, ebilling administration tools or LEDES invoice generators, law firm practice management and timekeeping systems that create LEDES invoice files, and BI and benchmarking system vendors), law departments that mandate ebilling, law firms and other legal vendors who submit ebills, consultants, educators and legal organizations concerned about ebilling.
The survey closed on April 1st, and we are happy to report that we had 141 responses, by far our most successful survey to date.
We are organizing the responses for evaluation. Look for more information on what we found in May, and the follow-on steps that will be taken by the LOC to right the course of ebilling.
We thank everyone who provided feedback on this important topic.
At our mid-year Member’s Meeting, the LEDES Oversight Committee announced that the time has come to identify and address issues and deficiencies with legal ebilling. As a standards organization the LOC Board recognizes that the we can recommend but not force standards. Once we have quantified issues experienced by law firm and law department users, subcommittees will be formed to recommend solutions and standards. We plan a publishing campaign to influence public opinion and create a demand for better solutions.
We look forward to working with our members to effectuate change.
Check back from time to time for more information on this exciting project.
Are you interested in participating in this effort? The LEDES Oversight Committee is one of the best association bargains in legal. Use the Join the LOC feature in the menu to join today.
We are just back this week from the ILTA conference, where the LOC held our mid-year meeting and a panel discussion on “Why UTBMS Isn’t a Waste of Time.”
The UTBMS session was interesting and our panel of experts provided great insight as to how UTBMS is used in electronic validation of invoice submissions, budgeting, invoice review, reporting and in the business intelligence platforms. One interesting take away is that when clients customize UTBMS, the custom codes need to be mapped back to general codes by the analytics provider in order for the data to be used in benchmarking. Our thanks to Philip Downey, Jack Thompson, Margie Sleboda and Doug Ventola for all of their great insights.
LEDES Oversight Committee Standards Board Member David Nelson reports:
For all law firms that conduct civil litigation in England and Wales, Lord Justice Jackson delivered a keynote speech at the Law Society’s Civil Litigation conference yesterday (Thu 21st April 2016) regarding the new Bill of Costs and the J-Codes. The text of Lord Justice Jackson’s speech is available here: Jackson talk on new bill of costs.21.4.16.
Background for your information:
As you may be aware, the judiciary in England and Wales asked Lord Justice Jackson to conduct a review of the way costs are presented to and assessed by the courts. This was known as the Jackson Review of Civil Litigation Costs in England and Wales, simply referred to as the ‘Jackson Review’.
Several recommendations were made by Jackson LJ in his final report in the area of the inter-parte Bill-of-Costs, with the aim of reducing the preparation lead-times involved in producing the bill and improving the assessment of it (and reducing the time it takes to assess).
A committee was set-up to work on realising these recommendations, now known as the Hutton Committee – it is chaired by Alex Hutton QC and its members consist of representatives from a broad section of the legal industry, including Costs’ Lawyers, a Costs’ Judge; Legal Firms and company directors, and a representative from the ACL. The LOC participated by virtue of having David Nelson (LOC standards director) serving as the project coordinator on the Committee.
The committee delivered two work products – 1: the J-Codes and 2: the new model form Bill-of-Costs (for inter-parte costs to be presented to the court at the conclusion of the case). The J-Codes were ratified by the LOC in September 2014 and are a valid UTBMS standard. They can be used for eBilling if the client requires them and the vendor has them configured (the LOC hopes that they have by now). The new Bill-of-Costs is currently under voluntary pilot in the SCCO (Senior Courts Costs’ Office) until October 2016.
Much has appeared in the legal press about both the J-Codes and the new Bill-of-Costs, and there has been controversy which is too much to cover in this announcement.
The important take-away is that the new Bill-of-Costs is on the horizon, so law firms in England and Wales need to review it accordingly and consider how and when to start using it. Reviewing LJ Jackson’s speech may help in this decision making process.
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On January 29, 2016 the LEDES Oversight Committee members enacted a change to our membership structure.
Previously membership in the LOC was limited to organizations. An individual derived their membership in the LOC by virtue of working for a member organization. Each member organization was able to designate one voting member, an alternate voting member, and an unlimited number of general (non-voting) members for the $200 yearly membership fee. On initiatives presented to the membership for consideration, each organizational member was able to cast a single vote. Importantly, when an individual discontinued working for the member organization, the individual lost their membership in the LOC.
In 2016 the membership structure has change to individual membership. Now all LOC members have the right to vote on initiatives presented to the membership for consideration, and an individual’s membership will continue regardless of their employment status.
The only requirement to become a member in the LOC is that an individual “shall be … working, or having retired from work, in some capacity within or associated with the legal industry.”
The dues for individual members in 2016 are $95 USD.
To become a member, use the application form here.
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The IPMM Invention Disclosure Schema has been ratified by the LEDES Board and is now available for use. See here for more information.