Newsletter – March 2024

Spotlight on… the Association of Costs Lawyers

The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) has come a long way since its foundation in 1977 as the Association of Law Costs Draftsmen.

It is one of the eight recognised branches of the legal profession – Costs Lawyers are authorised persons under the Legal Services Act 2007 with independent rights to conduct litigation and advocacy, and subject to independent regulation by the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB).

The ACL has a seat the table in all the major decisions on costs – I was on the Civil Justice Council committee that last year issued a major report on the future direction of costs – and is actively growing its influence further. Lord Justice Birss, the deputy head of civil justice, Master Cook, His Honour Judge Lethem and various other eminent figures from the costs world took part in an ACL roundtable to reflect on a decade of costs management last year and we are making plans to hold a similar event again this year.

It all forms part of the ACL Council’s focus on modernisation, engagement and representation. While Costs Lawyers have to be regulated by the CLSB, they do not have to be members of the ACL and so we recognise that we need to provide reasons to become one. That more are joining tells us we are heading in the right direction.

Importantly, membership fees allow the ACL to act as a collective voice for the profession. The chance to influence our work and engagement with the wider costs world is an important reason to join, I think – put bluntly, we have access that practitioners do not. We are stepping up the activities of regional networking groups and have created special interest groups to focus on particular areas of practice.

We are also looking to enhance CPD opportunities – on top of our amazingly well-attended London and Manchester conferences each year – while there are also various member benefits, such as the Costs Lawyer Journal, access to the Croner Business Support Advice Line, discounts from a range of retailers and later this year an exclusive member offer with Costs Law Reports.

On our new website launched recently members can enjoy exclusive access to the most up to date costs news and insights via a dedicated Members Hub. Plus, there’s an upgraded Costs Lawyer Directory with relevant specialisms and areas of practice ensuring compatible enquiries from the public.

Another big development has been the launch of the Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification, the course run by our training arm, ACL Training. It’s a two-year, part-time, online course in a modular format that provides students with greater flexibility in completing the course. In the coming months, those unsure about committing to the full course, or who want to develop specific areas of their costs knowledge, will be able to apply to complete individual modules. The period of qualifying work experience students need is two years as well and can be done before, during or after the course. Both elements were previously three years. There are various exemptions that those with other qualifications and existing experience can claim and I believe the CLSB’s new training rules open up the profession in an extremely positive way.

This is a dynamic period for the costs world. Despite the extension of fixed costs, the Civil Justice Council report confirmed the importance of costs management. Costs Lawyers are also increasingly deploying their skills more broadly in project management and other roles, as a clear understanding of how litigation works and costs is proving valuable.

It’s a great time to be a Costs Lawyer and I am confident that, working together, the ACL and the profession will go from strength to strength.

Jack Ridgway
Chair, Association of Costs Lawyers

Back to newsletter