Changes to CPD requirements in 2021

New CPD Rules for Costs Lawyers came into force on 1 January 2021, giving you more flexibility and choice around your CPD activities. You still need to obtain 12 CPD points per year, and you must plan and evaluate your CPD. You need to take action now, at the start of the CPD year, to ensure you comply with the new CPD Rules.

What is CPD?

Costs Lawyers must ensure that their expertise remains relevant and current throughout their professional careers. One way of achieving this is to carry out continuing professional development, or CPD. The term CPD refers to the learning activities that a practitioner engages in following entry into the profession.

For Costs Lawyers, CPD might involve learning activities aimed at:

  • refreshing or updating existing knowledge about costs law and practice
  • developing practical skills, such as advanced advocacy techniques
  • acquiring new abilities to facilitate a changed role or promotion, such as people management
  • understanding changes to legal or regulatory requirements that impact the profession, such as data protection laws

CPD requirements

New CPD Rules and guidance came into force on 1 January 2021, for the 2021 practising year and beyond. The new rules will increase flexibility and choice for practitioners, by removing the old activity categories and points caps, ensuring that you are able to choose and undertake the right training for your development needs. You will also need to reflect on the objectives and outcomes of your CPD.

The new CPD Rules and supporting materials can be found below.

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CPD Rules 259.27 KB

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CPD Guidance 551.96 KB

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Suggested template for planning and recording CPD 38.49 KB

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Worked example of suggested template for planning and recording CPD 194.17 KB

    Please note: Costs Lawyers wishing to reinstate during 2021 who have practised at any point in 2020 will need to show evidence of CPD which complies with the CPD Rules in force until 31 December 2020.

    What do I need to do?

    To help you understand the new requirements, you can watch this introductory video. It provides an overview of the new regime and the changes from the old rules.

    Once you have watched the video, start thinking about your development needs for the coming year and jot down your learning objectives. You can use our template for planning and recording your CPD, which can be downloaded using the link above. Alternatively, you can use your firm’s CPD record or create your own.

    Once you have carried out your CPD for the year – and obtained a minimum of 12 CPD points – you can complete your CPD record by reflecting on the extent to which you have achieved your learning objectives.

    Where do I find more information?

    Our CPD guidance, which can be downloaded using the link above, contains lots of detailed information about your CPD obligations and how you can ensure your CPD activities are relevant to your learning needs. This should be your first port of call.

    The FAQs below contain answers to a variety of practical questions about CPD.

    If you have a query that is not covered by the guidance or the FAQs, please contact us and we will help you on an individual basis.

    CPD opportunities during the pandemic

    Following the response of Costs Lawyers to our coronavirus impact survey we have put together a list of free or low cost CPD training available.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Your CPD obligations

    Under the CPD Rules, you need to:

    • Identify your training needs and set CPD objectives that are aligned to your individual role and responsibilities and to the professional standards in the CLSB Code of Conduct
    • Undertake relevant CPD activity, achieving a minimum of 12 CPD points each practising year (January to December)
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of your CPD against your objectives
    • Record your CPD (including your objectives and evaluation) and report it to us upon request

    Detailed advice on each of these CPD stages can be found in our CPD guidance. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.

    In the CPD guidance, we recommend that you assess your CPD needs and objectives by linking them to four categories of development. These are:

    • Legal and technical competence
    • Professional ethics and behaviour
    • Dealing appropriately with your client and third parties
    • Management

    More information about these categories, and how they are linked to the CLSB Code of Conduct, can be found in the CPD guidance. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.

    No. The categories are there to help you think about your development needs in a structured way. If you don’t have development needs in a particular category, there is no need to undertake CPD relating to that category.

    Yes. You must achieve at least 12 CPD points each practising year, in accordance with CPD Rule 1.3. This is a minimum standard and, if your individual development needs necessitate achieving more than 12 CPD points, you should do so.

    There are some exceptions to this requirement, for example if you have been on long term leave during the CPD year. More information about exceptions can be found in these FAQs, under the heading “Inability to meet your CPD obligations” below.

    There is detailed information about your CPD obligations in our CPD guidance. We also provide a template document for planning and recording your CPD, along with a worked example to show you what a completed template might look like. There are links to these documents at the top of this webpage.

    If you have questions relating to your individual situation, please contact us.

    Your CPD activities

    CPD is defined in CPD Rule 1.1 as an activity over and above your routine practice to develop your skills, knowledge and professional standards as a Costs Lawyer. Any activity that falls within that definition counts as CPD.

    A non-exhaustive list of activities is set out in CPD Rule 3.1. More information can be found in the CPD guidance under the heading “Undertaking CPD activity”. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.

    There are some activities that do not count as CPD. These include work that forms part of routine practice, chargeable client work and general social media activity (see CPD Rule 3.2).

    In accordance with CPD Rule 3.1, you get one CPD point for each full hour you spend engaged on an activity. For CPD not completed in full hour blocks you can get part points. For example, a seminar of 1 hour 45 minutes would attract 1.75 CPD points, and one of 30 minutes would attract 0.5 CPD points.

    Yes. The new CPD Rules, which apply from 1 January 2021, abolish all points caps and activity categories in favour of a more flexible approach that allows you to determine which learning activities best suit your individual needs.

    You still need to ensure that your CPD activities are pitched at a level that is appropriate to your professional development needs (CPD Rule 3.3).

    This depends on how many hours you spend engaging with learning activities and materials offered by ACL, and whether those activities and materials are relevant to your own professional development. For more information, see paragraphs 20 to 22 of the CPD guidance. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.

    No. You can use any provider. But you should satisfy yourself that the provider is sufficiently competent and knowledgeable to meet your learning needs.

    It is no longer necessary for a Costs Lawyer to be accredited before they can deliver training to other Costs Lawyers. However, using an Accredited Costs Lawyer can give you confidence that the training will meet certain standards, as set out in the Accredited Costs Lawyer Rules.

    If you are looking for a Costs Lawyer who is accredited to provide CPD training, visit our Accredited Costs Lawyers page.

    No. CPD achieved in one year cannot be carried over, or otherwise attributed, to the following year. You should identify your learning objectives on an annual basis and carry out activities during the year that are relevant to meeting those objectives.

    Yes. If it suits you, you can do all your CPD remotely even once social distancing rules relating to COVID-19 have been relaxed.

    Remote learning options that you could consider in the current environment include:

    • Webinars offered by legal services firms or chambers. These are often delivered live, enabling participants to ask questions and view slides in real time.
    • Online materials, such as training videos, offered by legal knowhow services to which many firms have existing subscriptions.
    • Seminars that were scheduled to be held in person but that have been transferred to a virtual platform in light of COVID-19.
    • Distance learning courses or modules.
    • Podcasts, e-books, articles and other online commentary.

    In 2020 many established CPD events were unable to take place and in response to feedback from Costs Lawyers we put together a list of free or low cost training available online. This is available on our COVID-19 webpage.

    Recording your CPD

    Yes. We have a template document for planning and recording your CPD each year. There is also a worked example to show you what a completed template might look like. There are links to the template and worked example at the top of this webpage.

    No. You can create your own record or use your firm’s template (if they have one). It’s your choice.

    Whatever method you use, you need to capture all the information you’re required to record under CPD Rule 2.3. That information is:

    • Your training needs and the associated objectives
    • Your CPD activity
    • Your evaluation of the activity’s effectiveness
    Yes. If you would like comfort that your firm’s processes or forms will enable your staff to comply with the CPD Rules, we are happy to assess your processes on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us to access this service.

    Reporting your CPD

    We will ask you to report your CPD in two ways.

    First, you need to tell us which CPD activities you have carried out when you apply for a practising certificate. All Costs Lawyers must do this each year. You can do this by inputting details of your CPD into your practising certificate renewal form.

    Second, if you are selected for audit you must submit evidence of your assessment of training needs, objectives and evaluation. You can do this by providing your completed CPD record (whether you have used our template form, your firm’s form or your own form).

    Individual Costs Lawyers are selected for audit randomly each year. As a general rule, we will exclude Costs Lawyers who were selected for (and passed) an audit in the previous practising year.

    You might also be audited if, through our supervision processes, we have cause to be concerned that you might not fulfil your CPD obligations. This might be, for example, if you are currently subject to practising conditions.

    If you have fulfilled your CPD obligations, then the audit process will generally be straightforward and swift. We will write to you by email if you are selected for audit. Further information can be found on page 10 of our CPD guidance. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.  

    In the first instance, we will work with you to understand why you have failed an audit. You will always have a chance to explain your situation.

    Non-cooperation or persistent failure to address issues will be dealt with under our Disciplinary Rules and Procedures. Information about that process can be found on our Disciplinary Outcomes page.

    Compliance with the CPD Rules is a condition of practising as a Costs Lawyer under the Practising Rules. Failure to comply means your practising certificate could be revoked or made subject to conditions.

    Inability to meet your CPD obligations

    It is important to carry out sufficient CPD activities each year to achieve at least 12 points, in line with your development needs. We can only issue a practising certificate to a Costs Lawyer who has less than 12 points if:

    • the Costs Lawyer did not work for the whole year (see CPD Rule 1.4); or
    • exceptional circumstances have justifiably prevented them from meeting their CPD obligations (see CPD Rule 4.1).

    More information about exemptions to CPD requirements can be found at paragraphs 33 to 37 of the CPD guidance. There is a link to the guidance at the top of this webpage.

    In 2020 and 2021, dispensations are available on a case-by-case basis for Costs Lawyers who can evidence that they have been personally affected by coronavirus. Our CPD dispensation guidelines for 2020 provide an indication of how we will consider requests for dispensation. The guidelines will be updated for 2021 later in the year, once we know more about the likely ongoing impact of COVID-19.

    Under CPD Rule 1.4, if you:

    • qualify part way through a CPD year
    • are reinstated part way through a CPD year
    • take long term leave during a CPD year

    you will only be required to achieve (a minimum of) one CPD point for each full month worked during that CPD year.

    You will need to provide evidence of long term leave at the time you apply for a practising certificate for the following year. This might be a letter from your employer or healthcare professional. You will be able to upload your evidence as part of your practising certificate application.

    You will need to submit evidence of any exceptional circumstances with your application for a practising certificate. The online application form will prompt you for details if you enter less than 12 CPD points, and you can also upload other documents.

    If you had a period of ill-health, you will need to provide a medical note or letter from a doctor or other healthcare practitioner.

    If you were absent from work for an extended period, you will need to provide a letter from your employer or organisation confirming the period of absence.

    Where you have been on extended leave for part of the year, you will still need to attain one CPD point for each month (or part month) during which you were practising.

    If you have had correspondence with us during the year about your exceptional circumstances, please make sure you also include details in your application form.

    There is still time to undertake CPD during November and December. We would encourage you to consider any in-house training available as well as relevant webinars, which can often be completed from your desk or at home.

    If you intend to complete CPD in late November or December, after submitting your practising certificate application, you should note this on your CPD record as usual. Please ensure the CPD activity is booked before it is entered on your CPD record (for example, by reserving a place at a conference, accepting an invitation to a seminar or registering for a webinar).

    If the CPD activity is not in fact undertaken for any reason, you will need to choose another CPD activity and let us know about the change to your CPD record. Please remember that CPD records are subject to audit.

    We recognise that some Costs Lawyers might be furloughed or otherwise not able to work for certain periods in 2021 due to COVID-19. The requirement to attain 12 CPD points for the year will be reduced by one CPD point for each full month that you’re not able to work. For example, if you were furloughed full-time for two full months, you would only need to attain 10 CPD points in 2021. We will ask for evidence of your time away from work (such as a letter from your employer) to ensure that everyone is treated fairly.