3 February 2022
Consultation for the Court of Protection Electronic Bill of Costs (COP E-bill) launched
The Bill of Costs is in Excel format and will transform the assessment process in COP matters. The style of the bill follows the electronic bill (Precedent S) which was introduced in civil matters in 2017, modernising SCCO assessments. A template bill, including example data and guidance notes has been released (attached) from Costs Judge Leonard to the professional bodies who are being consulted.
Costs Judge Leonard said “Court of Protection assessments are undertaken by specialist costs officers at the Senior Courts Costs Office. Our working group includes costs officers, solicitors and costs lawyers who specialise in Court of Protection costs. They have all contributed to the design of COP-E. It is our hope that COP-E will facilitate the use of electronic communications, reduce dependence on paper, streamline the assessment process and reduce costs.” Clarion were part of this working group.
The COP E-bill displays mostly the same information as the traditional COP bill of costs, however, it provides for time to be categorised clearly by the costs provider allowing the Costs Officer to filter time during their assessment, into categories such as ‘communicate with the OPG’ and ‘arranging electronic payment’ which are clear and straight forward. Time is categorised by activity, but also by OPG105 category.
The OPG105 categories will enable the Costs Officer to see what costs have been incurred per OPG105 category, compared with the OPG105 estimate produced at the start of the management period. This information has not been readily available for the Costs Officer before now.
The COP E-bill also provides a list of ‘Standard Findings’ from the Costs Officers, which they may use to make common reductions to the costs incurred. This will provide clarity on assessment as to why reductions have been made, as the Costs Officer can simply use the abbreviations in the table to demonstrate why they have made their decision, with examples such as 3 minute payments, overheads and enclosure letters, which should be expected by Deputies. Also provided are a list of standard disbursements/expenses expected in COP matters.
Costs providers are expected to populate an additional field within the Bill of Costs, indicating what P’s assets are. When the COP E-bill is assessed, a Final Costs Certificate template is populated using the amounts allowed by the Costs Officer. This will save valuable administration time as the Bill of Costs is already recalculated showing exactly what has been allowed, reduced and disallowed on assessment.
The three-month consultation process will be followed by a 6-month pilot and then, hopefully, by full implementation. The consultation is limited to representatives of professionals involved in the Court of Protection field, being the Law Society, the Association of Costs Lawyers, the Professional Deputies’ Forum, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives, the Official Solicitor, Solicitors for the Elderly and the Legal Software Suppliers’ Association. Responses are required by 3 May 2022. These responses should be coordinated and provided only by the professional bodies who have been consulted and sent directly to Costs Judge Leonard.
As a member of the PDF, please respond directly to us if you have any comments. Stephanie Kaye will coordinate all responses and liaise directly with the SCCO on behalf of the PDF Working Group.