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  N260A – INTERIM APPLICATIONS
The N260A only requires activity name and communication method, you do not need to break profit costs down by phase (this doesn’t mean there aren’t phases though, more on that below).
The Excel version has 6 Tabs which are as follows:
Tab 1 – Front Sheet and Totals;
Tab 2 – Legal Team; Tab 3 – Profit Costs;
Tab 4 – Document Schedule; Tab 5 – Counsels’ Fees
and Disbursements;
Tab 6 – Guidance Notes.
      TAB 6 PROVIDES SOME USEFUL POINTS OF GUIDANCE AND SOME OF THE KEY POINTS ARE SUMMARISED BELOW:
You do not have to provide any description of each activity under the Profit Costs tab. This means more cumbersome detail is not required. It does, however, highlight the need to ensure that the activity code is applied correctly.
Whilst you don’t need descriptions under the Profit Costs tab, you do need descriptions for the documents time.
If there are more than two of any grade of fee earner, then these should be distinguished. If you have a lot of fee earners working on a case, then this is going to be obvious to the Other Side and the Court. No more grouping sets of fee earner into Grade A, Grade B, Grade C, Grade D etc.
Time for attending a hearing, waiting time and travel time should be separated out.
VAT for profit costs and Counsel’s fees include a formula which calculates VAT at 20%. For other disbursements there is no formula so VAT must be added manually. If VAT needs to be claimed at a different rate, then the formulae will have to be amended.
Counsel’s Fees are to be sorted by phase (even though profit costs 6 do not require a phase in the N260A) and also by four task codes
(conference, advice, documents, hearing).
N260B – COSTS UP
TO AND INCLUDING TRIAL
The N260B (costs to Trial) is more onerous and requires time to be presented by both phase and activity. The only requirement different to a Precedent S is the fact that a task code is not required for profit costs.
The guidance notes are essentially the same as the N260 with the key difference that the profit costs tab is broken down by phase as opposed to by party.
GENERAL POINTS OF INTEREST
For both N260s the document schedule will now require the time entries to be dated. This gives the N260 something of a closer relationship to a Bill of Costs.
There is some confusion over the form the Court want people to use. The Civil Procedure Rule Committee wrote in correspondence in July 2019 that the “Word/PDF versions are not being issued [and to] use the Excel versions for this pilot from now on”. Despite this a quick look at PD51x reveals that parties may use the paper/pdf form only or if serving in Excel format must file and serve the paper/pdf form at the same time. It seems odd that an Excel format is pushed by the judiciary but they are still placing such an onus on the paper/pdf form. Surely in this day and age the Excel form should suffice? This seems at pained odds with the Judiciary’s view to “make use of the existing technologies available”.
Another curious point is that in any case which has been subject to a CMO then any party filing form N260B must also file and serve
a Precedent Q. It is not clear under which circumstance this may arise as any budgeted case is inherently more likely to be subject
to detailed assessment. Could this signal
future thinking of the Court i.e. that budgeted cases could be summarily assessed in future? Speculation aside, this stipulation does show how the new N260 will work practically with the Precedent H.
It is safe to assume that the electronic N260 is here to stay, so on that basis embracing it now (and providing feedback) is a good move, else we face getting lumbered with a document which we have had no influence over. There are some obvious areas of confusion like the requirement for phases in the N260A which
is for interim applications only and there
will also be questions asked about how they speed up the process. Both the electronic N260A and N260B require more information than their predecessor but this information has to be inputted somewhere along the line. The counterbalance is that more information may lead to more informed and transparent summary assessments.
Like it or not, it’s clear that electronic working is the way forward. The best advice? Make sure you don’t get left behind.
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The phases for Counsel’s Fees and disbursements mirror those in Costs Budgeting from Pre-Action to ADR/Settlement. It’s not clear if you can add your own phases. There is a legitimate question; if the N260A is for interim applications only then why bother with phases for Counsel’s fees & Disbursements? The electronic Bill of Costs
has a phase called Interim Applications and Hearings (Interlocutory Applications) for such circumstances. Surely this ought to suffice?
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     Other disbursements need only be sorted by phase, an expense code is not required. Again, this is at odds with profit costs which do not require a phase.
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