CPD dispensation guidelines

We recognise that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unprecedented challenges for everyone. Our COVID-19 advice has been kept up to date throughout the year.

We know that social distancing measures have made it hard to attend CPD events in person, and that some scheduled events have been cancelled or postponed. We therefore introduced a policy to enable Costs Lawyers to obtain all their CPD points for the 2020 practising year from remote leaning activities (e-learning) where necessary. Full details are in our policy statement.

Responses to our Coronavirus Impact Survey showed that some Costs Lawyers were concerned about achieving 12 CPD points in 2020, due to availability and affordability of training during the pandemic. We responded by sourcing and publishing on our website a list of free or low-cost CPD opportunities for Costs Lawyers.

Our Board is confident that in spite of the restrictions in force during the year there are adequate opportunities for obtaining relevant, quality and affordable CPD available to Costs Lawyers, and that it should be possible for everyone to obtain sufficient CPD points, unless there are additional individual circumstances that should be taken into account.

We recognise that the pandemic has resulted in particular difficulties for some Costs Lawyers, including sickness, the sickness of someone they have had to care for, bereavement and furlough.

The Costs Lawyer Continuing Professional Development Rules make provision for Costs Lawyers who take long term leave – such as parental leave, sick leave or a career break – to obtain a dispensation from their usual CPD obligations. Those Costs Lawyers are required to “achieve 1 CPD point for each full month worked during that CPD year” (Rule 1.4). This provision can be relied upon by Costs Lawyers whose individual circumstances resulting from the pandemic mean they have not been able to work for the full year.

For anyone claiming such dispensation, we will ask for evidence of your time away from work (such as a letter from your employer or a medical note) to ensure everyone is treated fairly. Applications for 2021 practising certificates, which includes the submission of a 2020 CPD record, will be made online and evidence of any long-term leave should be uploaded as part of the application.

We realise that some Costs Lawyers have been impacted uniquely by COVID-19, even where they have not been absent from work. For example, some Costs Lawyers work in such specialist areas of costs that the removal of one or two key conferences and seminars has had a disproportionate impact on the amount of relevant CPD available. Where individual circumstances do not fit precisely within the provisions in the CPD Rules, we will consider requests for dispensation in line with the spirit of the Rules to ensure they do not lead to unfair or inconsistent outcomes.

20 October 2020