The Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) has opened up the possibility of qualifying in two years rather than the present three, with a proposed change to its training rules.
It has asked the Legal Services Board (LSB) to approve a change to the rule that says that the qualification is a three-year course and cannot be completed in less time.
The CLSB told the oversight regulator: “Following representations by ACL Training that, if this rule was removed, there would be scope, following agreed exemptions, for the modules to be re-worked to provide for the qualification to be achieved in two years, for example, the CLSB agrees that it is appropriate to delete the three year rule.
“This will then enable dialogue between CLSB and ACL Training to achieve a shorter route to qualification.”
The CLSB made the proposal in its application to the LSB for approval of various changes to the training and CPD rules, many of which were set out in a consultation in February. Further changes, such as this one, came out of the 19 responses received, which were largely supportive of the reforms.
The changes include raising the minimum age to take the course from 16 to 18 – because of the difficulties with vetting and duties of care – and removing the requirement that Trainee Costs Lawyers have to be a member of the ACL.
Further, exemptions offered to trainees with other relevant qualifications would no longer be limited to those who have achieved them within the previous seven years, and fees would be reduced for those with exemptions.
The application also covered various tweaks to the CPD rules. A new one that followed the consultation was that – recognising that the revised qualification includes a section on business acumen, and the number of Costs Lawyers who are either sole practitioners or run a costs business – practitioners could claim up to three points of CPD for “receiving or delivering training in relation to practice management”.
Other changes include a rule for those who work only part of a CPD year for reasons such as maternity and long-term sickness – so that one CPD point must be achieved for each full month worked – and another rule requiring Costs Lawyers to keep evidence of the CPD for two years from the end of the CPD year in question.
The CLSB has yet to publish the outcome of the third limb of its consultation, who proposed that experienced costs professionals who pass a new competence test should be allowed to become Costs Lawyers without any further study.