Applying for Common Professional Examination exemption

Updated 24 March 2020

During the coronavirus outbreak, we encourage you to send your Equivalent Means application to us by email rather than in the post. This will allow us to consider your application during this time.

If you have supporting documentation to send us that is too big for email, we can provide you with a secure link for this to be uploaded.

Please email your form and any relevant documentation, or a request for a secure link, to

To pay, please complete the relevant sections of the methods of payment form and send it with your completed application once you have instructed your bank to send payment direct.

If you have any questions, please contact us by emailing


This is an application for full exemption from the requirement to complete the Common Professional Examination (CPE). If you wish to apply for partial exemption, you must do so when applying to your CPE provider to enrol on their course.

You need to demonstrate the seven Foundations of Legal Knowledge. These are:

  • Criminal Law
  • Equity and Trusts
  • Law of the European Union
  • Obligations 1 (Contract)
  • Obligations 2 (Tort)
  • Property/Land Law
  • Public Law (Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Human Rights Law).

In addition, you must demonstrate one additional substantive area of law. You must demonstrate all the above by certificated learning and/or work-based learning1.

Important information

For certificated learning, we will only recognise academic credit that has led to a qualification or a certificate. Examinations on each topic must have been passed at 40 percent or above. You need to provide certified copies of your qualification or certificates, transcripts and module descriptors.

If you are claiming an exemption based on an award obtained outside of the UK, the awarding body must be recognised by UK NARIC.

For work-based learning, your evidence will need to confirm the work carried out, how it meets all the CPE requirements and must be corroborated by your employer.

Guidance for referees

You must ensure that your referee(s) have read this information.

References must:

  • be provided for each period of experience claimed
  • be written for the purpose of this application and be dated within the last three months
  • be submitted on letter headed paper.

Referees must:

  • have supervised you directly as a general employment reference is not enough
  • read your application, reviewed all supporting evidence before corroborating your experience and confirm that they have done so in their reference
  • familiarised themselves with the CPE course content and refer directly to this when providing their reference(s)
  • include examples from their direct observation of your work.

If your supervisors are not solicitors, ask them for a statement outlining their skills, experience and qualifications. These must be relevant to supervising your legal work. They may also wish to comment on how familiar they are with the CPE course content.

You must redact all samples of your work to remove sensitive or identifying information. We will not accept non-redacted documents and will destroy them.

Making your application

The application fee is £55.

We aim to provide you with a decision within 90 days of receiving your application.

Apply Now
Download application form (DOC 11 pages, 93KB)

You must keep a copy of your application and evidence.

  1. 1. Certificated learning is learning which has led to a qualification or certificate. Whilst work-based learning is objectively assessed workplace experience.