ACLT regulations



Chapter 4:

Supervised Practice Regulations


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4.0: Supervised Practice regulations overview

Definition, qualifying employment, registration, attendance and engagement, process, assessment, records, plans and logs exceptions, interruption and deferral, change of employer, withdrawal, completion and moderation.

4.1 Definitions

4.1.1 Qualifying Experience

Under rule 6 of the CLSB Trainee Costs Lawyer Training Rules 2020 a trainee must have undertaken three years’ work experience in costs law and practice (Qualifying Experience) to qualify as a costs lawyer. This is work that is of costs nature, or work involving activities that require the application of costs law or procedure. A qualified costs lawyer must have undertaken this work for a period of 3 years or more. This could be as an employee, self-employed or working for a registered charity. The experience can be gained before, during or after study for the costs lawyer qualification, and does not need to be continuous.

The ACL may audit the experience to ensure it was relevant and completed, as per the CLSB Trainee Costs Lawyer Training Rules 2020 

For examples of work that may amount to costs work experience (please see appendix SP1).

4.1.2 Supervised Practice

In order to qualify with ACLT as a Cost Lawyer, an individual has to achieve a core or threshold level of competency. The threshold standard for graduates has been articulated as: 

“a competent trainee having completed the costs lawyer qualification and 3 years of work based learning will have a good working and background knowledge of costs law and practice, will be able to work independently to draft documentation and conduct advocacy that is fit for purpose, and will be able to cope with complex situations through deliberate analysis and planning. This level of performance will be evidenced through assignments, examination and supervised practice.”

The threshold is underpinned by outcomes as set out in the CLSB Aims and Outcomes. The aims of the Supervised Practice are to ensure a Trainee reaches that expected level of competency and performance. During Supervised Practice a Trainee will:

  • Apply knowledge acquired by them under the Course. 
  • Learn and apply key practical skills of a costs lawyer. 
  • Learn and apply the professional standards required of a costs lawyer. 

These outcomes require that a qualified costs lawyer must have demonstrated a minimum ability in costs law and practice. Whilst some of this experience can be achieved through academic study, certain competencies need to be developed in the work environment; in some cases a combination of academic study and practical work application are called for. This is contextualised by the ACLT Supervised Practice Framework. (Please see appendix SP 2)

The Supervised Practice (SP) approach to a trainee’s costs work experience provides structured learning and development, and assessment opportunities in a live work environment. The learning is based on a development plan of exposure, experience and reflection, to ensure the trainee has acquired, developed, applied and evidenced skills, knowledge and ability to the required competency level and the CLSB day one outcomes. As the stages of the plan are completed evidence is gathered and presented in a portfolio of evidence and/or reflection. This portfolio is then signed off by a Work Based Supervisor or by an SP Tutor and submitted to the ACL for validation and moderation. 

This means that a fully qualified cost lawyer not only has the knowledge to perform their role, but also the skills and experience to apply it; i.e. that they are competent.  Please also refer to the Supervised Practice booklet.

4.2 Accreditation Framework – the SP Framework

The ACL SP Framework maps out all of the abilities or competencies that a qualified costs lawyer should have developed through SP. (Please see appendix SP 2)

The competencies are organised in clusters which are the CLSB Supervised Practice outcomes. All CLSB outcomes, underpinned by ACL Competencies, at the level 3 threshold of the framework will need to be evidenced, through Supervised Practice or the formal qualification, in order to qualify as a costs lawyer.

All should be experienced and evidenced when student members of the ACL evidence their Supervised Practice, though failure to complete each competence statement would not automatically result in failure of the SP stage of qualification (please see appendix SP 2)

The accreditation framework also includes the three-year experience time frame in order to assist both the trainee and employees when planning their training.

4.3 Registration

Trainees are required to register, with ACL, their Supervised Practice in accordance with the arrangements notified and published. This will usually be on the application for the professional qualification. ACLT will work with the ACL Administration team to ensure that all Supervised Practice is managed according to the requirements stipulated by the ACLT and, where applicable, the CLSB.

Trainees may complete their Supervised Practice prior to, during or after their 3 year study programme. Registration for Supervised Practice in each phase is set out below. In all cases Trainees are required to notify the ACL of their supervision arrangements or requirements.

4.3.1 Prior to Study

Where trainees are going to use prior practice to evidence all of their supervised practice they will need to notify the ACL, when they apply for the course on the Course Application Form. On this form they will formally notify ACL that they have completed their supervised practice years and wish to evidence prior practice for all of their 3 years Supervised Practice. Any changes during their practice should be recorded on the application (for example, where there has been a change of employer). Trainees will need to obtain references from former employers or confirmation from their current employers that they have seen requisite references and are happy to confirm the CLSB outcomes have been met.

Where experience prior to study is used towards only part of the three year period students should notify the ACL Office on the Course Application Form. ACLT will then request the relevant documentation is completed. All students will be required to indicate on their course application form whether they will have a work based supervisor or whether allocation of an SP Tutor is necessary. 

4.3.2 Concurrent with Study

All students will be required to indicate on their course application form as to whether they have a work-based supervisor so that ACLT may determine whether there needs to be an allocation of a SP Tutor. Any changes in employment during the course should also be communicated to the ACL Office.

Upon completion of the 3 years supervised practice all trainees need to communicate to the ACL that they have finished their three Supervised Practice years. 

4.3.3 Post Study

All Trainees need to register with the ACL, using the SP Registration Form (see appendix SP 3), that they have formally commenced their three SP years. Students should indicate on the form whether they will have a work-based supervisor or whether allocation of an SP Tutor is necessary. Any changes in employment should also be communicated to ACLT using the member details page of the website.

4.4 Duration of Registration

The maximum duration of registration on any of the ACLT’s awards, including periods of suspension and interruption of studies, is six years.

This means that whilst the period of Supervised Practice of three years does not have to be continuous is does have to be completed within a six year period. A student entering the ACLT with advanced standing or who is given accreditation for prior experience shall have their maximum duration of registration adjusted accordingly.

4.5 Hours

Trainees need to meet the requirement to have worked the equivalent of a full time role for three years. Full time employment is in excess of 20 hours per week for a minimum of 43 weeks a year. (Please see appendix SP 4) This does not have to be continuous work.

During this period they need to be engaged in costs work experience in their day-to-day activities. Evidence of engagement with, and experience of, cost law and practice during this period will be shown on their Professional Development Plan (see appendix SP 5), SP Reflective Logs (see appendix SP 6) and all Evidence will be stored locally in a single Folio.

In addition to this where SP is being evidenced after the qualification, trainees will be required to attend annual reviews with their Supervisor.

As part of his or her evidence of completion, each trainee will also be required to attend a minimum of one viva during the three years, which will take place at the end of Unit 3 or, where SP is completed after study, will be arranged when the ACL Office are notified that the SP has been completed.

4.6 Progression

There is no set order for completion of the competencies on the SP framework. All competencies should be developed and evidenced prior by the completion of the three years.

However, within each Competency in the SP Framework there are levels of performance. These levels are cumulative, with each level building on the previous one. This means that at the threshold level 3, for example, an individual will also be able to demonstrate competency at levels 1 and 2 (Please see appendix SP 2).

All three levels, for each competency, therefore need to be experienced and evidenced.

4.7 Supervision

All SP trainees need to have a work based Supervisor or SP Tutor to support and validate their development, application of competencies and evidence. The Supervisor is there to guide, coach, review and sign off their Supervised Practice. A Supervisor can be either:

  • Work Based Supervisor: normally a line manager or training manager in the organisation employing the trainee
  • SP Tutor: allocated by ACLT when a Work Based Supervisor is unavailable for example as no individual meets the criteria or the trainee is self-employed.

4.7.1 Work Based Supervisor

This is the ideal support to a trainee completing their SP. During the three year period they will act as a supplier (of opportunity), guide, coach and assessor. In order to take on the role of a Work Based Supervisor the individual must meet the following criteria:

  • be qualified as a cost lawyer, or equivalent;
  • have worked as a cost lawyer, or equivalent, for a minimum of 5 years;
  • be employed in the same organisation as the trainee;
  • be happy to take on the role; and
  • have the time and opportunity to fulfil the role.

4.7.2 SP Tutor

If the trainee is unable to nominate a Work Based Supervisor, for instance as they are self employed or no individual meets the criteria, then ACLT will appoint them an SP Tutor, who will take on a similar role. In order to take on the role of an SP Tutor the individual must meet the following criteria, to:

  • be qualified as a Cost Lawyer, or equivalent;
  • have worked as a cost lawyer for a minimum of 5 years;
  • be appointed to the role by ACLT; and
  • be able to commit to the role.

4.8 Assessment

Overall assessment of completion of Supervised Practice will occur when

  • three years (equivalence) of relevant experience has been completed, and
  • all required competences on the Supervised Practice Framework have been achieved to level three.

In practice there are three levels of assessment:

  • Firstly, the trainee is self-assessing and once they are happy they have attained the required level will put forward their evidence for this.
  • Secondly, the Work Based Supervisor or SP Tutor adds their agreement to this assessment through the sign off processes.
  • Finally, ACLT, through the viva and moderation, confirm the assessment.

When a student cannot, through disability, be fairly assessed for specific competencies, the Assessment Board may agree to vary those as deemed appropriate, bearing in mind the intended outcomes of the Supervised Practice and the need to assess each candidate on equal terms with other candidates. In addition, special arrangements can be made via the Operations Manager for alternative experience, development and evidence of competence to be undertaken. In determining the nature of any variation in methods of assessment, full account must be taken of the ACLT’s policies in respect of students with disabilities. (Please see Appendix GR 8)

4.9 Records and Documentary Evidence

Evidence of successful completion of three year Supervised Practice is presented through a series of validated documents.

Failure to correctly maintain and submit the correct records at the viva will result in failure to complete the SP element of ACL qualification.

The following documents, which make up the Supervised Practice Portfolio, are maintained and submitted at the SP Viva. This portfolio is owned by the trainee, and contains all the plans, outcomes and evidence from the SP programme.

4.9.1 SP Framework

A copy of the SP Framework on which the SP is based to evidence the trainee is aware of all the competencies to be completed. All competencies set out in the ACLT SP Framework need to be signed off as having been completed in order to finish the programme. This is to be signed off by Supervisor or SP Tutor when a Cluster is completed.

For those evidencing SP costs work experience undertaken partially or completely prior to study the clusters should be signed off by the person providing a reference for that individual. Where the referee is unable to sign off particular clusters, this will need to be signed off by ACLT when the Viva is undertaken. (see Appendix SP 2)

Trainees are required to bring a copy of the signed SP Framework with them to the SP Viva.

4.9.2 Trainee Professional Development Plan

This sets out what is to be achieved throughout the coming SP year(s) and provides an on-going record as it is completed throughout the year. (Please see appendix SP5)

The Plan sets out:

  • Objectives (or the competence statements to be achieved)
  • WB or AC
  • Priority
  • Activities to achieve objectives
  • Support/resources
  • Target Date
  • Date Achieved
  • Sign off by Supervisor or SP Tutor

This does not need to be completed for any period of costs work experience undertaken prior to study of the qualification.

Trainees are required to bring a copy of the completed Professional Development Plan with them to the SP Viva.

4.9.3 Reflective Logs

These detail the evidence presented for each competency statement achieved. Evidence, or examples relied upon, should include both the process and outcomes of the experience. It should also reference any copies of output – e.g. a client communication.

These logs also requires students to reflect upon their experience. The logs require sign off by the Supervisor or SP Tutor in the reference provided (see 4.9.5). The log will need to be completed by all students irrespective of when the costs work experience was undertaken. Where the referee is unable to sign off particular clusters, this will need to be signed off by ACLT when the Viva is undertaken. (Please see appendix SP 6)

Trainees are required to bring a copy of the completed Reflective Logs with them to the SP Viva.

4.9.4 Evidence Folio

This is a collection of documents, statements, bills or other evidence to support the evidence and reflective log. The evidence folio should include an index and reference should be made to the page number of the relevant evidence log. This is to be stored locally by the trainee but available to the WB supervisor or SP Tutor upon request. This should also be brought to the SP Viva at the end of Unit 3.

For those evidencing SP costs work experience undertaken partially or completely prior to study the evidence folio will still need to be created. Where there is no evidence available at the time of creation to support the reflective logs, this will need to be signed off by ACLT when the Viva is undertaken.

4.9.5 Reference

All trainees are required to provide a reference, from their Work Based Supervisor or SP Tutor, confirming that the qualifying experience has been completed. The reference should confirm the hours worked and the role(s) undertaken. The reference should refer to the SP Framework, Professional Development Plans and the Reflective logs. Where there has been a change of employment then more than one reference will need to be provided to cover the three year period. Where a trainee is self employed the reference will be produced by the SP Tutor. (Please see Appendix SP 4)

4.9.6 Viva Record

All trainees are required to take part in a minimum of one viva as part of their evidence of completion during the three year period. A record of the viva and outcome is to be signed off by the trainee and Supervisor/ Tutor. (Please see Appendix SP 7)

4.10 Interruption of Practice

Supervised Practice can take place before, during or after study for ACL Qualifications. SP does not have to run concurrently for the three year period, but to be three years in total, experienced over a six year duration.

4.10.1 Deferral

If a student has interruption(s) to their SP, which takes them beyond the six years, then they may apply to defer or extend their Supervised Practice.

Any student has the right to draw to the attention of ACLT any personal extenuating circumstances, which seriously impair his/her ability to compete their SP within the time frame, and to request an extension or deferral.

Requests for deferral on grounds of extenuating circumstances may only be made using the procedure notified and must be accompanied by verifiable and current third party evidence. (Please see Appendix AC 8 and AC 9)

4.10.2 Interruption

The deferral procedure is not an appropriate measure in respect of permanent or long-term conditions or situations. Students experiencing special long-term difficulties arising from changes in their personal, medical or work circumstances may apply or be advised to interrupt their Supervised Practice for up to 12 consecutive months according to the procedure notified.

A student returning from a period of interruption of studies shall be subject to the Regulations that apply at the time of recommencement of SP.

4.11 Change of Employer

If a trainee changes firm during the course of their SP period they must advise the ACL Office. The existing Supervisor will be required to sign off achievements to date and will need to complete a reference. If a trainee is unable to complete a specific competency due to the change of employment, then a new experience and outcome needs to be set in their plan. Once a trainee has moved, a new Supervisor or SP Tutor needs to be appointed.

If a Supervisor leaves the firm a new Supervisor or SP Tutor needs to be appointed.

4.12 Complete Withdrawal from Practice

Where a student indicates a desire to withdraw from Supervised Practice, the date of withdrawal shall be taken as the date on which the Operations Manager (or nominee) signs the form; retrospective withdrawal dates shall not be accepted. It is the student’s responsibility to inform the ACLT of the withdrawal through the procedure notified. All competencies evidenced up to the time of withdrawal shall stand, and the student may re-start in later years if appropriate. (see Appendix GR 5 and GR 9)

The ACLT reserves the right to require a student to withdraw where the student has not fully engaged with the Supervised Practice or not complied with their financial commitment to the ACLT.

4.13 Conditions of completion

After successful completion of the Supervised Practice, as evidenced through the Supervised Practice Portfolio, a student will be eligible for a certificate of completion. There are no interim awards for failure to complete all three years of the SP.

4.14 Modification of Assessment

Final assessment of the Supervised Practice will be subject to moderation prior to a certificate of completion being issued. Any entitlement to a certificate of completion may be set aside by the Assessment Board following a case of cheating.