Civil Procedure Rules on Bills


The Civil Procedure Rules suggest that a bill of costs may be split to include the following.


1. The title page - this usually gives details of the parties and the authority for detailed assessment (e.g. order, judgment, notice of acceptance or discontinuance).


2. Background information - this is the ‘new’ term (under CPR) for what was previously traditionally known as the bill narrative.


3. Separate headings for


(i) Attendances Upon Court and Counsel


Under this section you should include details of all relevant events in the proceedings even if the events are not costs-bearing. Details of all court orders made during the course of the proceedings should also be given, regardless of whether the costs relating to those order are claimable within the bill of costs.


(ii) Attendances upon and communications with


- the client


- witnesses (including expert witnesses)


- London and outer agents


- other persons (including public records offices)


(iii) Attendance to inspect a place or property for the purposes of the proceedings


(iv) Communications (not covered by attendances above) with Court and Counsel


(v) Documents items (to include preparation and consideration time, time for making calculations and collating documents)


(vi) Work in respect of negotiations (if not covered under the above headings).


(vii) Other work of or incidental to the proceedings, not covered above


4. Communications


(i) These are defined by CPR as simply letters out and telephone calls. However, they can also include e-mails. These are also defined as communications which, because of their simplicity, are regarded as not properly amounting to an attendance. The case of Bwanaoga -v- Bwanaoga [1979] expands on this principle.


(ii) Non-routine communications should be set out in chronological order. If the number of non-routine communications exceeds 20 these should be set out in a separate schedule. If there is more than one schedule in the bill of costs, the separate schedules should be consecutively numbered.


(iii) Routine communications should be grouped together as a single item under each relevant heading.


5. Numbering


Ideally every separate item in the bill of costs should be consecutively numbered.


6. What format should the bills adopt?


See CPR Precedents A, B, C and D. You will find these at the end of the Costs Practice Directions. These Precedents are the model bills of costs for Detailed Assessment and should be followed as closely as possible.


7. Costs of Assessment


You should not claim any costs that relate solely to the Detailed Assessment proceedings. The only exceptions to this are the costs of preparing and checking the bill of costs.


8. VAT


VAT should be shown separately from profit costs and disbursements that attract VAT.


9. LSC (Legal Services Commission Costs)


If the receiving party was LSC funded the bill needs to be split into different parts.


9. Summaries


Pre-CPR bills of costs usually included sub-total at the bottom of every page. This format is still permissible but, if used, must include a summary at the end of the bill must set out totals for each page.


10. Certificates as to Accuracy


The certificates to the bill should be signed by a partner in the firm. This is a matter of best practice in keeping with many years of tradition and the spirit of judgments such as Bailey v IBC Vehicles [1998] 3 All ER 836. It is acknowledged, however, that the firm’s signature no longer has to be performed by a partner. Non-partners can now sign their firm’s bills. This is a matter of preference for the individual firm but it can  be argued that a partner’s signature carries greater weight and serve to give better peace of mind to clients and paying parties when confirming the accuracy of the bill and confirming that the indemnity principle has not been breached. Furthermore, the signing of a formal between the parties bill of costs is not exactly the same as singing a solicitor and own client bill. Appended to a between the parties bill are certificates (the precedent format can be found under CPR Precedent F) which confirm more than simply accuracy of the bill, but more so the indemnity principle has not been breached, whether disbursements have been discharged, and whether the receiving party is entitled to recover the VAT. This is not simply approval of a bill, and given the implications of inaccurate certificate, in practice many firms would consider it best practice to designate this practice to a senior member of the firm.


Signature of the Bill:


Historical Authorities and Statutes




It was a requirement for a partner to sign bills of costs produced by a solicitor for hundreds of years. The statutory requirements over the year were as follows:


3 James I, CAP VII “An Act to reform the Multitudes and Misdemeanors of Attornies and Solicitors at Law” – the bill must be “subscribed with his own hand and name”.


2 Geo. II, C.23 [1729] Bills of costs must be “subscribed with the proper hand of such Attorney or Solicitor respectively”.


[1843] 6&7 Vic C.73 XXXVIII, bills had to be signed by a solicitor “in his own name, or with the name or style of such partnership”.


Thereafter refer to:


s.55 Solicitors Act 1932


s.68 Solicitors Act 1957


s.69 Solicitors Act 1974



High Court


Goodman –v- J. Eban Limited [1954] 1 QB 550 – signature was by rubber stamp, not in the solicitor’s name but a facsimile of the name of the firm in the solicitor’s handwriting.


When referring to “Bills of Costs” we are talking about bills prepared for the purposes of Detailed Assessment. These are commonly described as ‘formal’ or ‘detailed’ bills.
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