From 1 November 2022 the COP E-Bill came into force. This will look slightly different to the Bills that COP practitioners are used to and will include some additional information including various categories and a separate part for the inclusion of P’s assets. We recently participated in a successful pilot scheme and will be submitting all Bills from 1 November 2022 in this new format.
Below are some common queries about the E-Bill and how to resolve these.
How does the Deputy or person authorised by the firm to sign on behalf of the Deputy certify the Bill of Costs?
The Deputy or authorised person is still required to certify the Bill as before. However, on the new E-Bill format the legal representative’s name can be typed or printed into the ‘Certification’ tab. Please be aware that the ‘Post Assessment Certificates’ section is only to be certified once you are requesting the Final Costs Certificate following assessment.
Where will information relating to any interim payments taken be entered?
Similarly to the PDF Bills, the E-Bill requires you to disclose any interim payments taken on account of costs for the period. This information should be entered on the ‘Certification’ tab in the first box.
How will the new E-Bill be E-filed using the SCCO portal?
The process for E-filing the Bill of Costs remains very much the same. You are still required to submit the certified Bill, Order, certified N258B and disbursement evidence as before, but use the new options on the E-filing service beginning ‘COP E-Bill’. If the Bill and N258B are not certified by an authorised person, then the submission will be rejected by the SCCO.
What will happen to the E-Bill on assessment?
Once the E-Bill is received and approved by the SCCO, it will be allocated to a Costs Officer who will review and assess in the usual way. The Costs Officer is able to make changes to the Bill where appropriate and the E-Bill will recalculate this automatically. The Costs Officer will use a series of codes and mark these on the E-Bill so that you can determine the reasons given for the reductions.
How will the E-Bill be returned following assessment?
The E-Bill now includes a contact email address section on the front sheet, which should be completed when drafting the Bill. Following assessment, the E-Bill will be sent via email to the address provided.
How should the E-Bill be served on interested parties where required?
If you are required to serve the Bill on interested parties then this should be provided to them as a PDF version of the E-Bill. Please request this from your Costs Draftsperson who would be more than willing to assist.
How can I ensure my E-Bill is compliant with new the new requirements?
There are some new requirements when using the E-Bill format that are likely to cause some minor issues if they are missed. Below are some ways in which you can assist your Costs Draftsperson in ensuring the E-Bill is ready to be submitted to the SCCO.
SCCO reference – there is a section on the front sheet that relates to the unique SCCO reference for each matter. This can be inputted prior to submission to the SCCO to help avoid any rejections based on the matter already existing. Please provide the SCCO reference to your Costs Draftsperson if known.
OPG105 estimated costs – there is an increased emphasis on providing the OPG105 estimated costs for the period when using the E-Bill. Please provide the OPG105 costs estimate to your Costs Draftsperson so that this can be included in the Bill.
P’s assets – the E-Bill now includes a specific section relating to P’s assets so that the Costs Officer can consider these. Please provide this information to your Costs Draftsperson and they will include it in the Bill accordingly.
Fee earner rates – please provide a breakdown of the fee earners who have worked on the matter and their date of professional qualification so that these can be included in the Bill.
Amendments – if you require any amendments to the E-Bill please consult your Costs Draftsperson. The E-Bill uses complex algorithms to calculate the totals within the Bill and any changes made could affect these and corrupt the Bill. We therefore recommend that you ask your Costs Draftsperson to make any amendments you require, rather than attempting this yourself, as it could cause issues with the E-Bill later down the line.
The introduction of the COP E-Bill will revolutionise the COP sector and should have a positive impact on assessment times and also result in less administration time following assessment, as the Bill is automatically recalculated in this format.
Additional information on E-Bills can be found here: https://www.judiciary.uk/guidance-and-resources/electronic-bills-in-court-of-protection-cases-pilot-in-the-senior-courts-costs-office/