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Part XV: Bills of Costs for Taxation

102. Basis of taxation

Every bill of costs to be taxed pursuant to a judgment or order of court must be filed together with a copy of the judgment or order of court.  Where an order for taxation is not required under the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5), the bill of costs shall describe succinctly in its heading the basis of taxation.  A bill of costs for taxation between a solicitor and his client pursuant to section 120(3) of the Legal Profession Act (Cap 161) must be filed together with a copy of the document signifying the consent of the parties to taxation.

103. Form of bills of costs

The attention of solicitors is drawn to Rules 24 and 31 and Appendix 1 of Order 59 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5).  In addition, solicitors are to abide by the following requirements in relation to the form of bills of costs.

(1) Margins

A blank margin of not less than 10 mm wide must be provided on all four sides for each page of the bill of costs.

(2) Pagination

Every page of a bill of costs must be paginated consecutively at the centre of the top of the page.  The attention of solicitors is drawn to Practice Direction 86 (Pagination of documents) in regard to pagination of documents filed using the electronic filing service.

(3) Format

(a) Party-and-party bills

(i) A bill of costs drawn up for taxation between one party to proceedings and another should be divided into three separate sections as required by Order 59, Rule 24 of the Rules of Court.

(ii) Form 18 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions should be used for contentious business in respect of work done for a trial or in contemplation of a trial.

(iii) Form 19 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions should be used for contentious business in respect of, or in contemplation of, work done other than for a trial (such as work done for an appeal or for a specific interlocutory application).

(b) Solicitor-and-own-client bills

(i) A bill of costs drawn up for taxation (pursuant to any written law) between a solicitor and his own client should be drawn up in the same manner described in sub-paragraph (a) above save as follows:

(A) A solicitor will be deemed to have indicated that all items included in the bill are in relation to work done or disbursements incurred with the approval of the client.

(B) Any agreement, whether oral or in writing, between the solicitor and his own client relating to the amount of costs payable either as a global sum or in respect of particular items included in the bill should be indicated on the bill.

(C) Any agreement between the solicitor and his own client as to the rate to be used to compute the solicitor’s costs should also be indicated in the bill.

(ii) Form 20 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions should be used for non-contentious business.

(c) Specimen bills

Specimen bills illustrating the use of Forms 18, 19 and 20 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions are included in Appendix G for the guidance of solicitors.

(d) Bills of costs required to be taxed under section 18(3) of the Motor Vehicles (Third Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap. 189)

(i) Whenever a solicitor-and-own-client bill is required to be taxed by virtue of the above-captioned Act, a bill should be drawn up for taxation between the solicitor and his own client and another bill drawn up for taxation between the client and the other party to the proceedings in which the solicitor acted for the client. A waiver of the filing fees for the solicitor-and-own-client bill may be requested for when this bill is filed.

(ii) The party-and-party bill should be filed first and the solicitor-and-own-client should reference the first bill.

(iii) The party-and-party bill and the solicitor-and-own-client bill can be drawn up as described in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) above with the modification set out in sub-paragraph (iv) below.

(iv) It is not necessary to repeat serially in the solicitor-and-own-client bill the items which have been serially set out in the party-and-party bill. It is sufficient, ordinarily, to incorporate all such items by reference and proceed to set out in detail any additional items, i.e., items not already set out in the party-and-party bill.  However, if a sum claimed for an item of disbursement in the solicitor-and-own-client bill is different from the corresponding sum claimed in the party-and-party bill, it will be necessary to set out serially again in the solicitor-and-own-client bill all the items of disbursement already set out in the party-and-party bill (including, where appropriate, the different sum or sums claimed) as well as additional items of disbursement not so set out.  In addition, the global sums claimed for sections 1 and 2 of the solicitor-and-own-client bill should be indicated at the end of the respective sections whether or not they are the same sums as those claimed for sections 1 and 2 of the party-and-party bill.

(4) Particulars

(a) Sufficient particulars must be included in the bill of costs so as to enable the Registrar to exercise his discretion under paragraph 1(2) in Appendix 1 to Order 59 of the Rules of Court.

(b) Without prejudice to paragraph (3) above, the Registrar may, at the taxation hearing, order the claiming or receiving party to furnish full details in support of the sums claimed under the bill.

(c) Each bill of costs submitted to the Court through the Electronic Filing Service must —

(i) be in Portable Document Format (PDF);

(ii) comply with these Practice Directions; and

(iii) be accompanied by a bill of costs composed online through the Electronic Filing Service.

(d) The information required by the Electronic Filing Service to compose the bill of costs summary includes the costs claimed under Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the bill of costs.

(5) Goods and Services Tax

A party claiming goods and services tax (hereinafter referred to as “GST”) in a bill of costs must comply with the directions set out in this paragraph.  A party who fails to comply with the directions set out in this paragraph will be presumed not to be claiming GST in the bill concerned.

(a) GST registration number

(i) The GST registration number allocated by the Comptroller of Goods and Services Tax to the solicitors for the receiving party or parties should appear at the top left hand corner of the first page of the bill of costs.

(ii) The GST registration numbers, if any, allocated to the receiving parties or to any one or more of them, as the case may be, must also appear at the top left hand corner of the first page of the bill of cost.

(iii) The GST registration numbers should be indicated as follows:  “GST Reg. No. (solicitors for plaintiff/solicitors for 1st defendant/2nd defendant/(or as the case may be)): xxxxx.”

(iv) Where no GST registration number has been allocated to a receiving party, a statement to this effect should be included after the GST registration numbers of the solicitors for the receiving parties, or the receiving parties, as the case may be, in the following manner: “Solicitors for plaintiff/solicitors for 1st defendant/2nd defendant/(or as the case may be): no GST Reg. No.”

(b) Input tax allowable

The proportion of input tax for which the receiving parties, or one or more of them, are not entitled to credit should be stated, as a percentage, in parentheses after the GST registration number of the party or parties concerned.  For a person who is not liable to be registered within the meaning of the First Schedule to the Goods and Services Tax Act (Cap. 117A), this proportion should be 100%.

(c) Apportionment

(i) The first section of the bill of costs should set out the work done in the cause or matter except for taxation of costs. The amount of costs claimed for work done should be divided into as many parts corresponding with the different rates of GST applicable pursuant to section 16 of the Goods and Services Tax Act, its predecessor and any subsequent amendments thereto. Each part should state the global sum of costs claimed and the applicable GST rate for the relevant period.

(ii) The second section which sets out the work done for and in the taxation of costs should describe the work done, the sum of costs claimed and the applicable GST rate.

(iii) The third section, which sets out the disbursements made in the cause or matter, should first set out the disbursements on which no GST is chargeable by the solicitors for the receiving party or the receiving party as the case may be.  For the disbursements on which GST is chargeable, it shall be divided into as many parts corresponding with the number of different rates of GST applicable pursuant to section 16 of the Goods and Services Tax Act, its predecessor and any subsequent amendments thereto.  Each part should set out the disbursements on which GST is chargeable by the solicitors for the receiving party or the receiving party, as the case may be and the applicable GST rate.  For example, for a matter which commenced in 1998 and concluded with a judgment in March 2003, with regard to disbursements on which GST is chargeable, the first part will set out the disbursements incurred on or before 1 January 2003 and the amount claimed for GST at the rate of 3%, while the second part will set out the disbursements incurred on or after 1 January 2003 and the amount claimed for GST at the rate of 4%.  If a claim is made for disbursements incurred on or after 1 January 2004, the second part will set out the disbursements incurred on or after 1 January 2003 and before 1 January 2004, the amount claimed for GST at the rate of 4%, followed by a third part which shall set out the disbursements incurred on or after 1 January 2004 and the amount claimed for GST at the rate of 5% (or the applicable rate pursuant to section 16 of the Goods and Services Tax Act).

(d) Summaries of the GST claimed for work done

The following information as is applicable should be included at the end of the first and of the second sections:

(i) the global sum of costs claimed for work done during each period for which a different rate of GST applies or no GST applies;

(ii) the proportion, as a percentage, of input tax for which the receiving parties, or one or more of them, are not entitled to credit;

(iii) a quantification of the input tax on the costs claimed in the section concerned for which the receiving parties, or one or more of them, are not entitled to credit; and

(iv) quantifications of the GST claimed at the applicable rate on the costs claimed in the section concerned.

(e) Summary of the GST claimed for disbursements

The following information as is applicable should be included at the end of the third section:

(i) a summation of the disbursements on which no GST is chargeable by the solicitors for the receiving party or the receiving party, as the case may be;

(ii) a summation of the disbursements on which GST is chargeable by the solicitors for the receiving party or the receiving party, as the case may be;

(iii) the proportion, as a percentage, of input tax for which the receiving parties, or one or more of them, are not entitled to credit;

(iv) a quantification of the input tax on the disbursements on which GST is chargeable by the solicitors for the receiving party for which the receiving parties, or one or more of them, are not entitled to credit; and

(v) quantifications of the GST claimed at the applicable rates on the disbursements.

(f) Registrar’s certificate

The total amount of GST allowed on a bill of costs will be indicated as a separate item in the Registrar’s certificate. Solicitors are responsible for ensuring that the GST figures accurately reflect the sums allowed by the Registrar.

104. Registrar’s Certificate

(1) There is no necessity for solicitors to collect the taxed bill of costs from the Registry to prepare the Registrar’s Certificate.

(2) As the Registrar’s Certificate of costs under Order 59 Rule 32 of the Rules of Court (Cap. 322, R 5) will be composed online based on the summary in the bill of costs, solicitors should ensure that the information contained in the summary in the bill of costs accurately reflects the information contained in the bill of costs submitted.

(3) Solicitors should also ensure that the amounts claimed for goods and services tax (GST) in the Registrar’s Certificate are correct.

(4) The procedure for the preparation of draft orders set out in these Practice Directions shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to the preparation of the Registrar’s Certificate.

(5) For the avoidance of doubt —

(a) the Registrar’s Certificate shall be filed as a Portable Document Format (PDF) document for bills of costs filed before 30 September 2013; and

(b) for all other cases, the Registrar’s Certificate shall be composed online through the Electronic Filing Service.

105. Objections

(1) In any disputed taxation involving party-and-party bills of costs, solicitors presenting the bill for taxation shall observe the following procedure:

(a) the respective solicitors shall confer prior to the date appointed for taxation with a view to resolving, limiting or clarifying the items in dispute; and

(b) any objections in principle or as to quantum of the items claimed in a bill of costs must be indicated by the filing and service of a Notice of Dispute in Form 21 in Appendix A to these Practice Directions at least 7 days before the date fixed by the Registrar for the taxation of the bill of costs.

(2) The Registrar may, in his discretion, make any appropriate orders as to costs if any of the above directions have not been complied with.

(3) The Notice of Dispute shall be filed through the Electronic Filing Service in Portable Document Format (PDF) and be accompanied by a Notice of Dispute summary, the electronic form of which will be composed online through the Electronic Filing Service.

(4) The information required by the Electronic Filing Service to compose the Notice of Dispute summary includes the amounts of costs to be awarded under Sections 1, 2 and 3 of the bill of costs according to the respondent.

106. Amount allowed as disbursement on account of use of electronic transmission

(1) If a document is filed using the Electronic Filing Service, $0.40 for each page of the document thus filed shall be allowed as costs between parties to proceedings. Such costs may be claimed by a receiving party from the paying party where the receiving party is entitled to costs for the filing of the document. These costs shall be allowed in addition to all other disbursements and Court fees.

(2) This Practice Direction shall apply to the taxation of costs as well as cases where the Court fixes a gross sum in lieu of taxation.

(3) This Practice Direction shall not apply to any document filed through the service bureau.

(1) This Practice Direction shall be complied with in respect of all taxations in which the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid is involved.

(2) Subject to paragraph (4) below, for all taxations in which the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid is involved —

(a) the receiving party must, prior to the filing of the bill of costs in Court through the Electronic Filing Service, send the bill of costs to be filed to the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid, as the case may be;

(b) the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid should then inform the receiving party whether he/she agrees or disagrees with the amounts claimed in the bill of costs;

(c) when filing the bill of costs in Court through the Electronic Filing Service, the receiving party must state whether the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid agrees or disagrees with the amounts claimed in the bill of costs; and

(d) the bill of costs should also be served on the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid, as the case may be, on the same day that the  bill of costs is filed.

(3) If the Public Trustee or the Director of Legal Aid (as the case may be), agrees with the amounts claimed in the bill of costs, then —

(a) for solicitor-and-client costs required to be taxed pursuant to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act (Cap. 189) —

(i) where no party-and-party bill of costs has been filed; or

(ii) where the solicitor-and-client costs are not referenced to a  party-and- party bill filed earlier,

the receiving party and the Public Trustee need not attend at the taxation and the bill will be taxed in their absence, except that if the taxing Registrar disagrees with the quantum of costs agreed on, he may nonetheless direct the attendance of the Public Trustee at a later date;

(b) for solicitor-and-client bills filed pursuant to the Legal Aid and Advice Act (Cap. 160) where the Director of Legal Aid is the respondent, the receiving party and the Director of Legal Aid need not attend at the taxation and the bill will be taxed in their absence, except that if the taxing Registrar disagrees with the quantum of costs agreed on, he may nonetheless direct the attendance of the Director of Legal Aid at a later date.

(4) If solicitor-and-client costs are required to be taxed pursuant to the provisions of the Motor Vehicles (Third-Party Risks and Compensation) Act and the bill of costs claiming the same is referenced to an earlier  party-and-party bill filed pursuant to Practice Direction 103(3)(d) (Form of bills of costs), the Public Trustee need not attend the taxation of the bill and the party-and-party and solicitor-and-client costs will be taxed in the absence of the Public Trustee. However, the Public Trustee may attend at the taxation if he so wishes, and shall attend if an express direction is made by the taxing Registrar that he should attend in relation to a particular bill of costs.