The only body authorised to provide the Costs Lawyer qualification is ACL Training. This is wholly owned by the Association of Costs Lawyers. This is not a stich up but simply a reflection of the fact the demand for training has always been so limited that no other academic organisation would dream of trying to set up an alternative training programme and jump through the hoops required to obtain authorisation.
ACL Training has gone through a strange period.
Back in September 2014 it was announced, with some fanfare, that almost 200 students had signed up to the new training course to become Costs Lawyers. The exact number was, apparently, 189.
The number of new students for that year was always misleadingly high:
- There had been no new students enrolled the previous year as the course had been suspended whilst it was comprehensively redesigned post-Jackson. In reality, it was two years’ worth of students rolled into one.
- The figures included a number of experienced law costs draftsmen who had finally decided to make the jump to become qualified Costs Lawyers. This was, no doubt, partly in the belief that formal qualification would enhance employability in a post-Jackson world where the number of costs jobs was likely to decline.
- As this was shortly after the Jackson reforms had been introduced, this was in the rather artificial environment where costs budgeting was generating additional work but the adverse impact of Jackson had not yet started to work through into the system. In some quarters, during this brief period, it looked as though overall work levels might not drop. This no doubt encouraged some to seek qualification.
The recent edition of Costs Lawyer magazine records 97 students as having recently taken final year exams. This would be from the 2014 intake of 189 students. This suggests a very high level of drop-out/failure during the previous 3 years.
The post-Jackson environment is now taking its toll.
The number of new student for this year is 20.
Unsurprisingly, ACL Training is projected to start making significant losses over the next few years. It seems unlikely it can possibly continue in its current form.