Precedent S comprises 17 worksheets, the last three of which contain only reference data. This is a short summary of the content and some of the uses of the 14 “active” worksheets shown in the working “example data” version of Precedent S included with the online version of the Part 47 Practice Direction, which can be selected and worked through on screen.
Worksheets 1 and 2
These are the bill’s cover sheet and certificates.
Worksheet 3: Synopsis
Worksheet 3 is reserved for the “synopsis” of the case.
Worksheet 4: Chronology
Worksheet 4 is reserved for a chronology of the litigation. The spreadsheet format does not lend itself to the incorporation of a chronology within the body of the bill.
Worksheet 5: Legal team and rates
Worksheet 5 provides details of the receiving party’s legal team (“LTM” = legal team member), each team member’s hourly charging rates for given periods and, given that counsel’s fees are to be treated as a disbursement, any success fee applicable to counsel’s fees (solicitors’ success fees are recorded elsewhere).
This is the first worksheet from which changes by the parties in negotiation or by the assessing judge, for example to a solicitor’s hourly rate, will feed through to the relevant parts of the bill. In cases where a Costs Management Order has been made, a receiving party preparing the bill may wish to make separate provision for the hourly rates claimed for budgeted and non-budgeted costs, so as to avoid any reduction in the hourly rates for non-budgeted costs being applied automatically to both.
Worksheet 6: The funding and parts table
The Funding and Parts Table allows the bill to perform calculations which in paper bills can only be performed by physical division of the bill into parts. Where for example different VAT rates apply during periods covered by the bill, an identification code (“Part ID”) will be created for each relevant period and entered in the Funding and Parts Table. Those drawing up the bill will apply the appropriate code to each item of cost. The bill will then automatically calculate the correct VAT rate on each item and send that to the summaries. If individual items are adjusted on assessment, the VAT will be recalculated automatically.
Similarly, if a success fee applies only to a given period the bill will automatically apply the success fee to appropriate items and include the correct total success fee in the bill summaries. If the parties or the assessing judge adjust either individual entries or the overall success fee (the latter can be done simply by changing the level of success fee shown in the Funding and Parts Table) the bill will recalculate accordingly.
Worksheet 7: Summarily assessed costs
This shows all costs awarded to the receiving party on summary assessment. The bill calculates any success fees due on those costs (and the VAT on those success fees) and sends them on to the appropriate summaries.
Worksheet 8: Main summary by phase
This worksheet summarises base costs and disbursements by phase. These summaries are pivot tables, derived from the information entered elsewhere in the bill.
To demonstrate the way in which the bill recalculates summaries when individual items change, one can note the summary of the total bill at worksheet 8, then return to worksheet 5 (Legal Team and Rates) and change any of the hourly rates. Using the spreadsheet’s “data/refresh” function (this may vary depending upon the type and design of spreadsheet) will automatically update the profit costs and bill totals at spreadsheet 8.
Worksheet 9: Summary by task, activity and expenses
This worksheet provides a detailed summary of the base costs claimed broken down into task, activity and disbursement. Users can use the + buttons to “drill down” to identify the work done by each grade of fee earner. This summary, showing in one place (unlike the current bill format) who spent how much time on what, should provide a valuable focus for negotiation.
Worksheet 10: Budget comparison
This worksheet summarises the costs claimed under each phase and (where appropriate) contingency against the last approved or agreed budget, identifying departures from budget.
Worksheet 11: Main summary by part
This worksheet replaces the summary currently shown for each part of any paper bill divided into parts.
Worksheet 12: Summary of communications
Filtering is a useful function of the spreadsheet, allowing the information shown to be limited to an area under discussion. This summary, for example, can be filtered to identify and assess email communications with a given party.
Relevant worksheet columns are headed (just below and to the right of the description of the column’s contents) by a small grey arrow pointing down. Left – clicking on the arrow offers filtering options. Here for example, at column C, the filter may be applied to show only communications with the client. At column D a filter may be applied to reduce that, again, to email communications.
There are a number of ways to remove the filters once they are no longer of use. One is to right-click on each arrow again and click “select all”.
Most spreadsheet formats will also have a quick procedure for the immediate removal of all filters from a given worksheet. You could use the “back” button, provided you do not inadvertently undo any changes you have made.
Worksheet 13: Bill detail (print version)
This is a reduced version of the full bill detail worksheet 14 (see below), suitable for printing and designed for service of a paper copy of the bill.
Worksheet 14: The bill detail
The parties, on assessment, may well have to spend much time on this page, containing as it does the detail of every time entry and disbursement. This is also where adjustments should be made on assessment (overwriting the summaries on other pages may erase the bill’s built-in formulae and stop it functioning as it should).
The court is however only likely to need to consider a few of its columns and the filtering techniques explored below can be used to isolate, from the mass of detail, the relevant information needed for decisions to be made and carried through to the bill’s summaries.
Users may also find it useful to “hide” the columns in any worksheet that are of no immediate use. On assessment, the columns of most importance will usually be:
Column D – Date the work was undertaken
Column E – The description of the work undertaken
Columns F – The Legal Team Member
Columns G and H – The time spent and whether it is estimated.
Column T – The external party name, if any
Other columns, however, may assist when it comes to isolating work that is in issue. Filtering is likely to be particularly useful in worksheet 14 and here the phase, task and activity columns may assist.
Here are some examples.
The filter arrow at column D can be used to put every individual item in the bill into date order, earliest first. To see, in date order, all the work undertaken within the disclosure phase (phase 4 – see Schedule 2 to the Part 47 Practice Direction) the filter arrow at column N can then be used to select “P4” only.
Further filtering at column F can then isolate, in date order, all the time spent by Mr Taylor, a fee earner shown in the bill as WT1 and WT2 (depending on hourly rate) during the disclosure phase. That can be filtered further, for example using the filter arrow at column P to select activity A10 (“Plan, Prepare, Draft, Review”- Schedule 2) to identify all document time claimed by Mr Taylor on disclosure. Further filtering by reference to task, in column O, can identify document time spent by Mr Taylor on his own client’s or other parties’ disclosure. The “description of work” at column E will show, in each instance, exactly what was done.
Starting instead by using only the filter arrow at column P to select activity A10 will produce a traditional “documents schedule” in date order, should that be desired. Further filtering can then isolate useful information: for example, using the filter arrow at column F will show, in date order, all the document time spent by Mr Taylor, which can be filtered further, e.g. by phase or task, if desired.
Alternatively the user could start at column F, to view only the time spent by Mr Taylor throughout the case. Further filters can be used at column O (task) to see how much of his time was spent in relation to taking, preparing and finalising witness statements (task T13) and again at column P (activity) to see how much of that time was spent drafting (activity A10).
During this process, time shown can be disallowed or reduced and the bill’s “data/refresh” or (depending on the design of the spreadsheet) similar updating function will recalculate the summaries to reflect the decisions made.
N.B. to illustrate the tie-in with Schedule 2 to the Part 47 Practice Direction the above examples use filters in the Phase, Task and Activity “Code” columns N, O and P to isolate relevant phase/task/activity information. Should the user find it cumbersome to cross-refer to Schedule 2 to identify phase, task and activity codes the same results can be achieved by filtering the Phase, Task and Activity “Name” columns Y, Z and AA.
Worksheets 15 to 17
These worksheets contain reference data and will not be needed on assessment.