The electronic bill came in on 6 April this year - and for a lot of law firms (Freeths included), that signalled the start of a new time recording system, comprising phases, tasks and activities. No longer a simple ten or so activities - now countless different combinations of codes to get to grips with.
Freeths lawyers have, thankfully, fully embraced the new system and many seem to prefer it to the old one, commenting on how transparent it is. That said, as Iain Stark's quote below highlights, the stumbling block is yet to come - an electronic bill has still not made its way through the courts and it is likely to be the end of the year until one does. In the meantime, lawyers are still filing paper bills as they complete pre-6 April matters, and some are beginning to consider how they might compile a spreadsheet in the form required by PD 47. Whilst that PD encourages the use of Precedent S, problems have already been identified with it and this is not going to gain buy-in.
Interesting times ahead...
Iain Stark, chair of the Association of Costs Lawyers, says: ‘What will have to happen as time goes on is that there has to be one universal electronic bill that we will all have to use because what we are seeing at the moment is different interpretations of the Practice Direction.’ Practitioners can choose between the old (paper) and new e-format for work done before 6 April. ‘You are going to have hybrid bills, old bills, new bills probably for at least three years.’