Guidance on the conduct of remote detailed assessments (DAs) has been produced to get the system moving during the lockdown.
DAs are not included in the civil court listing priorities produced by HM Courts & Tribunals Service, with only “preliminary assessment of costs” mentioned in the priority 2 category of work that “could”, rather than “must”, be done.
However, a group of costs professionals, with the support of the regional costs bench, has produced the guidance, which can be found on the Association of Costs Lawyers’ website here. It has also been welcomed by the masters at the Senior Courts Costs Office.
Litigation Futures understands that solicitors are pushing for DAs to continue because they need the cash flow during the lockdown, while the prospect of an imminent DA is effective at encouraging paying parties to settle costs disputes.
While practitioners are reporting that NHS Resolution is acting very responsibly in dealing with costs issues at this time, not all insurers are.
The guidance in many ways mirrors that produced for remote hearings in other courts, but it pays particular attention to preparing e-bundles, dealing with how to maintain privilege over the receiving party’s file of papers whilst at the same time creating an accessible core bundle, and how to deal with requests for Pamplin production.
It stresses that it is the responsibility of the court to mark or amend the bill to reflect the decisions made.
The court has to be provided with an electronic copy of the bill in an editable format – Microsoft Word for old-style paper bills or Excel for electronic bills.
It is envisaged that the hearing will take place via Microsoft Teams, which is now available to the judiciary. This ought to avoid the numerous technical problems that are being encountered when using the legacy Skype for Business.
Claire Green, chair of the ACL, said: “Having taken part in a two-hour oral review of a provisional assessment this week, and organising it without the benefit of any guidance, I can only say that this document is to be welcomed.
“We would urge all practitioners to familiarise themselves with it as it is anticipated the judges will begin to utilise the guidance quickly.”