Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification
Our course supports a range of professionals keen to develop their competence in the field of costs law, advocacy and civil practice
To qualify as a Costs Lawyer and obtain a practising certificate from the CLSB, you must:
- have successfully completed a Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB)-accredited Costs Lawyer qualification; and
- have completed, or be currently undertaking, two years of Qualifying Experience.
ACLT is currently the sole CLSB-accredited study provider. Our newest course, the Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification (CLPQ), and its constituent parts is designed to ensure students who qualify on our course have developed and been assessed as meeting the CLSB competences within the CLSB Competency Statement.
For those wishing to qualify as a Costs Lawyer, our 2-year part-time, online Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification (CLPQ) is the qualification for you.
Our CLPQ is divided into three core components:
- a Diploma in Civil Practice;
- a Diploma in Costs Law and Practice; and
- an Award in Costs Advocacy.
Find out more about the CLPQ
The course is open to anyone 18 years old or over. It is suitable for:
- Costs draftspeople
- Non-law and law graduates
- Paralegals, legal assistants
- Regulated lawyers
- Others interested in adding a qualification in costs law to their professional CV
For those who do not wish to qualify as a Costs Lawyer but wish to develop their general underpinning legal or costs knowledge, or for those who are unsure if they wish to commit to a full qualification from the outset, we will soon be offering students the opportunity to apply for modular components of our full CLPQ programme. This will allow students more flexibility to 'step on' and 'step off' the qualification at certain points, to suit their needs.
More information about this process will be available towards the end of 2023.
Read more about the full CLPQ below, including exemptions available from specific elements of the course, depending upon prior qualifications.
Qualifying Experience as a Costs Lawyer
While you are studying the CLPQ with ACLT, you should keep evidence of any costs law and practice experience. Once you have completed the CLPQ, to fully qualify as a Costs Lawyer, you will need to submit evidence of 2 years of Qualifying Experience (QE) to the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB).
See our section on "CLSB approval of Qualifying Experience" below for further guidance.
Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification (CLPQ)
The new, CLSB accredited, qualification has its first intake in September 2023.
The aims of the course are to enable you to:
- obtain general knowledge of each area of law studied;
- achieve detailed knowledge of the law and procedures relating to the costs subject studied;
- develop skills of legal analysis, particularly in relation to costs law and practice;
- reach a high level of competency and performance; and
- learn valuable transferable skills.
What you study and how long this part of the qualification takes depends on the qualifications you already hold. If you have no previous legal qualifications, you would need to complete all elements of the course, but if you have legal qualifications such as a qualifying law degree, Graduate Diploma in Law or other legal professional qualifications, you could apply for exemptions - read our Exemptions section for more information.
As many, if not most, of our students are in full time employment, the course is specifically designed to take account of this. However, if work pressures or personal life get in the way, you can postpone or "step off" your studies and return at a later stage.
The course is designed to be delivered via an online learning platform which makes it easy for you to access your learning materials, interact with your tutors as well as other students. You are expected to engage with one hour of tutorial time per week and undertake the activities set. You will need to plan your time and identify when particular modules are being delivered. Once you have signed up, you will be expected to continue for the entire academic year unless you defer or postpone your studies.
Intakes onto the course are in September and February with application windows open during the preceding months - see the Apply section for more details.
The full qualification will take 2 years of part time study to complete. During this time, you may also be gaining work experience in costs law, but you may also choose to gain your experience following course completion.
The full qualification is broken down into three individual awards made up of several individual modules. The awards can be completed as a continuous period of study, but there is flexibility to 'step off' individual awards or modules depending on other commitments in discussion with the ACLT team.
The learning time involved in the course is estimated to be 1800 hours. This is merely an indication of hours and the actual time spent will vary according to the your experience or prior knowledge and will include time spent preparing for any formal sessions, private study, engaging in relevant work-based learning and preparation for formative assessments.
Diploma in Civil Practice
- Contract Law (Year 1 part 1) 8 week module
- Tort (Year 1 part 1) 4 week module
- Civil Litigation (Year 1 part 2) 8 week module
- Professional Standards & Ethics (Year 1 part 2) 8 week module
Diploma in Costs Law & Practice
- Costs Pleading & Process (Year 2 part 1) 12 week module
- Legal Aid (Year 2 part 1) 4 week module
- Practice & Procedure in Specialist Forums (Year 2 part 2) 12 week module
- The Lawyer-Client Relationship & Funding Arrangements (Year 2 part 2) 12 week module
Award in Costs Advocacy
- Costs Advocacy (Year 2 part 1) 4 week module
The course is delivered predominantly via online learning. The course will begin with an online induction via videoconferencing, enabling you to meet with both your peers and tutors.
ACLT uses an online learning platform, Canvas, to enable easy access to learning materials, tutor interaction and administrative support.
Central to the course design is the recognition that many students will be in full-time employment juggling both study and work.
The materials have been devised to ensure you are able to study on your own, either at home or wherever suits you – reading, watching or listening to the material supplied, undertaking activities and assessments with regular
weekly support from your tutor. You will also get the opportunity to interact with other students through the online learning environment, videoconferencing and discussion forums.
To qualify from the course you must complete and pass all assessments. These may involve written assignments, examinations and in-person and online activities.
Successful completion of all assignments within a year will enable progression to the next year of study.
The pass mark for all assessments is 50% in line with other professional qualifications.
Read our Admissions policy for full details
The recommended minimum age of an applicant to start the Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification is 18. Students must be 18 at the date on which study will commence with ACLT. This recommendation is in line with courses of a similar equivalent academic level e.g. undergraduate law degree.
If requested by ACLT, applicants will need to provide proof of their date of birth before their application is considered.
The CLSB Training Rules 2023 and the CLSB Accredited Study Provider Handbook 2023 does not stipulate minimum entry requirements for the CLPQ. However, ACLT must ensure that its admissions and entry criteria safeguard students from enrolling in a course of study that they are unlikely to complete or that does not meet their needs.
A prior qualification is not required for entry onto the CLPQ. However, as the CLPQ is assessed at RQF Level 6 it is recommended that students are able to demonstrate prior qualification to at least Level 3 on the Regulated Qualification Framework (RQF) and at least a Grade C or 4 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics or equivalent. Candidates unable to demonstrate qualification higher than Level 2, but with very good work experience relevant to costs law may also be eligible.
Students must submit electronic (scanned) documentary evidence of entry level qualifications with an application, if they are not submitting evidence of higher-level qualifications for exemption purposes. See ACLT’s Exemption policy for further details.
If you have any questions relating to entry requirements specific to your situation, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can advise
Applicants from overseas
ACLT does not hold a licence from the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) to sponsor students for a Student visa (formerly known as Tier 4 (general) Student visa), therefore cannot sponsor international students onto its programmes who require a Student visa to study in the UK.
Applicants who do not require sponsorship to study in the UK, but whose first language is not English, must be able to demonstrate a level of English language proficiency above C1 level on the Common European Framework. This is due to the linguistic complexity of the subject matter. If you are an applicant whose first language is not English, or are not a national of a majority speaking English country and / or have not completed secondary or degree level study in English, you will need to demonstrate that you have a recognised English Language qualification equivalent to a minimum overall IELTS Academic score of 7.5 with a minimum of 7.0 in each area.
ACLT uses data from ECCTIS organisations: UK ENIC (formerly UK NARIC) and the UK Centre for Professional Qualifications (UK CPQ) to assess overseas academic and professional qualifications. Applicants may be required to obtain a Statement of Comparability for the purposes of their application at their own cost.
Applicants should ordinarily be domiciled in England and Wales. For those working in a relevant legal overseas setting seeking to qualify as a Costs Lawyer, ACLT reserves the right to take advice from the CLSB to deem eligibility for entry onto our courses, and not withstanding any issues pertaining to right to study in the UK.
ACLT provides the opportunity to apply for exemptions from components of the CLPQ. A summary is provided below.
Applications for any exemptions must be made at the time the course application is made.
Exemptions from periods of study and assessments
You may be granted exemptions from the assessments which assess the knowledge and skills set out in the CLSB competency statement where you can demonstrate you have completed a qualification that involved the development of competences and achievement of assessment outcomes that are equivalent to aspects of the CLPQ.
Any qualification must be a fully completed qualification; exemptions will not be awarded for partially completed qualifications. Where an exemption is granted from the assessment outcomes the applicant will be exempt from the relevant ACLT assessments and period of study
There are currently two types of qualification exemptions available.
Exemptions for listed qualifications from periods of study and assessments
Where an applicant can show that they have successfully completed one or more listed qualification (for example, a qualifying law degree, graduate diploma in law, legal practice course, bar practice course or professional training course, SQE1 assessment SQE2 assessment, CILEX Level 6 diploma, higher rights of audience (civil)), they are entitled to claim exemptions from certain elements of the qualification.
The current listed qualification exemptions within the ACLT Exemptions policy are taken from p18-19 of the CLSB Accredited Study Provider Handbook February 2023
Exemptions for unlisted qualifications from periods of study and assessments
If a qualification is not included in the above listed qualifications, an applicant must provide evidence to demonstrate that the qualification, on the basis of which the exemption/s is being sought, meets the following criteria:
- At least 75% of the learning outcomes and assessment criteria for the relevant ACLT module(s) must be covered within the qualification
- The level of the qualification must be comparable or higher to that of the ACLT module for which exemption is being sort
- The qualification must have substantive coverage of the English legal system
- The rigour of assessment for the qualification must be appropriate to the level and content of the ACLT module
All those considering making an application for an exemption based on a qualification that is not listed above or in the ACLT Exemptions policy, including any applicants who have previously studied on, but not completed, previous iterations of ACLT courses, are advised to discuss their applications with ACLT staff who will advise on exemptions.
Exemptions based on overseas qualifications will only be granted where applicants can demonstrates that the qualifications are comparable to those granted to applicants who have obtained qualifications in England and Wales. If your qualification is in a language other than English all documentation submitted must be translated into English. Please ensure your documents are certified by a professional fluent in both languages. Please then upload your scanned original language documents and your certified translations as part of your electronic application. We do not accept paper copies.
ACLT uses data from ECCTIS; UK ENIC (formerly NARIC) and the UK Centre for Professional Qualifications (UK CPQ) to make overseas comparisons for overseas qualifications.
The person undertaking the qualification is personally liable for their tuition fees for the whole academic year at the time of application or re-enrolment irrespective of whether they are being sponsored through the course.
Year 1 fees - £ 2250 + VAT
Year 2 fees (including Award in Costs Advocacy) - £ 3750 + VAT
The above fees are based on 2023/24 fee rates.
Course fees will be invoiced for in advance, for the year of study about to be undertaken. For students joining in e.g. Year 1, the course fees for Year 2 will be invoiced for upon successful completion of Year 1, prior to Year 2 commencing.
The year's course fees include the fees for all materials, access to Canvas online learning environment, online inductions, tutorial contact time, any seminar and revision sessions and first attempts at all assessments including examinations.
Course fees do not cover resit assessments or the cost of any travel or accommodation required to attend face to face assessments including examinations or practical seminars.
These costs will be your responsibility in addition to the course fees.
In addition to course fees, you will also be required to pay an administrative application fee (£50) at the time of making your application.
Should you apply for exemptions from specific components of the course, you will also be required to pay the relevant exemption fees. See the application and exemption fees section for more information.
Approved exemptions will result in a reduction in the overall course fees payable.
Application fees, course fees and any exemption fees are payable prior to enrolment on the course. Late payment of fees may delay your access to the start of the course and reduce the time available to you to complete your assessments.
Please see our Refunds and Withdrawals policy 2023 for full details of our refunds policy.
In addition to the fees mentioned above, a non-refundable administration fee of £50 is payable at the time of making your application to cover the processing of your application.
Exemption fees (per full/part year)
Should you have prior qualifications which are deemed to exempt you from full or half year elements of the qualification, you will not be required to pay the relevant full or part year course fee but you will be required to pay exemption administration fees as follows:
- Exemption administration fee for full year = £200 + VAT
- Exemption administration fee for part year = £100 + VAT
Exemption fees (per module)
Should you have prior qualifications which are deemed to exempt you from specific modules of the qualification but not the full or part year in its entirety, you will be required to pay a module exemption administration fee for those modules you will not be completing, as follows:
- Qualification exemption administration fee per module - £50 + VAT
If you have questions about which exemptions are possible, please contact email@example.com
Applicants for the CLPQ are required to provide information about their work experience starting with their current employment details (or most recent). This information may be used to assess an applicant’s suitability to study the Costs Lawyer Professional Qualification (CLPQ).
ACLT may routinely request references where those will assist in determining an applicant’s suitability to study the CLPQ.
Applicants should note that in order to qualify as a Costs Lawyer, and in addition to successful completion of the CLPQ, you must have completed, or be currently undertaking, two years of Qualifying Experience.
Qualifying Experience is work undertaken in costs law and practice for a period of two years under the supervision of a suitably qualified person. This can be carried out before, during or after studying for the CLPQ, subject to certain conditions.
Whilst it is not compulsory to be working in a Qualifying Experience setting prior to applying for a place on the CLPQ, applicants should have a plan for obtaining employment in a costs law setting and understand the requirements of the CLSB's Qualifying Experience process.
Applicants for the CLPQ are able to begin their studies at two points within the academic year - September and February.
Application registration link when open will be on our main CLPQ page
What our students say
Current and former students of ACLT give their thoughts on the course.
I wanted to take the next step in my career working within my firm. Whilst I was learning a wealth of skills in relation to costs drafting simply by doing my job, I was limited on knowledge of the relevant law (i.e., why I was doing it). The ACLT course has been able to fill that gap, and more. And soon I will be a fully fledged costs lawyer in my own right, able to conduct more and more tasks in my own capacity. Personally I have also uncovered some useful titbits for my work – things that not even my colleagues had picked up on in their 30+ years of experience!
I was told that there was a noticeable difference in my work after doing the course - it was invaluable in giving me the skills and knowledge to progress in my role. The course was also very inclusive as the structure allowed students to work full time, which is not always the norm in the legal profession”
CLSB approval of Qualifying Experience
To qualify as a Costs Lawyer, you must complete a CLSB-accredited qualification and complete and evidence 2 years (full time equivalent) of Qualifying Experience in costs law and practice. This can be done before, during and/or after your studies on a CLSB-accredited course, however only 12 months of Qualifying Experience undertaken prior to commencing a course of study can be counted towards the full 2 years. The 2 year period does not have to be continuous but you must be supervised by a suitable Qualified Person during the 2 year period you choose to use as your Qualifying Experience.
Once you have completed and passed your costs law qualification you can submit evidence of your 2 years of Qualifying Experience (QE) to the CLSB.
The CLSB defines Qualifying Experience as work undertaken that relates primarily to costs law and practice for a period of 2 years under the supervision of a suitably Qualified Person and allows for the skills in the CLSB competency statement to be practised. Qualifying Experience includes contentious and non-contentious advice, advocacy, costs management, pro bono work and legal aid work relating to costs. It also includes the administrative and regulatory aspects of costs work – such as time spent on client care, billing and training – as well as time spent managing a costs practice or managing other (regulated or unregulated) costs advisers.
What do I need to submit to the CLSB?
You will need to provide the following documents:
- A Qualifying Experience record, providing examples of how each of the skills in the CLSB competency statement has been practised during your period of QE
- A Qualified Person statement from each Qualified Person who has supervised any part of your Qualifying Experience
You will have potentially already completed 2 years' full time Qualifying Experience during your time studying with ACLT for the CLPQ (and up to 12 months can be gained prior to starting your ACLT studies). You are encouraged to populate your Qualifying Experience Record throughout your time studying with ACLT to ensure all the necessary skills and competences are documented in the record by the end of the period.
If you have completed your qualification with ACLT but not yet fully completed the 2 years' Qualifying Experience, you will still be able to apply for a conditional practising certificate from the CLSB, with conditions being removed once the full 2 years have been signed off.
Who can be a Qualified Person?
It is essential that you ensure the person or people supervising you during your 2 years of costs law professional qualifying experience are eligible to provide a statement to the CLSB about your professional work experience. The CLSB Training Rules (2023) states that a Qualified Person is:
- a Costs Lawyer; or
- another person who is authorised under the Legal Services Act 2007 to carry out the reserved legal activities of (at least) exercising a right of audience, conducting litigation and administering oaths e.g. solicitor, barrister, trademark/patent attorneys.
You should also make sure that your Qualified Person has a valid practising certificate for the full period of supervision.
Full details relating to the CLSB Qualifying Experience process including detailed FAQs, editable Qualified Experience records and Qualified Person statements can be found on the CLSB website.