CoL slammed for refusal to repay non-starter fees

Complaints about ’unfair’ treatment of transfer students as college holds onto payments

Nigel Savage
Nigel Savage

The College of Law (CoL) has entered into a major spat with several of Kaplan Law School’s LPC clients after refusing to refund thousands of pounds of course fees to the firms’ future trainees.

The dispute with Bird & Bird, Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW), Nabarro and Trowers & Hamlins arose after the firms, all of which send their future trainees to Kaplan, offered training contracts to students who had already paid their first instalments to CoL, which in many cases amounted to £5,890.

The college’s terms and conditions state that if a student wishes to withdraw from a course these payments, which must be made by 31 July, are non-refundable. The students affected all secured training contracts after the payment deadline.

CoL’s refusal to offer refunds to enable students to transfer to Kaplan prompted Nabarro, FFW, Trowers and BPP Law School client Taylor Wessing to write a joint letter appealing to the college to waive its rules. The college, which is likely to be forced to write off £450,000 of debt owed to it by defunct firm Halliwells, rejected the appeal.

CoL chief executive Nigel Savage said: “The reality is the firms have selected a law school that the students didn’t want to go to. We might be a charity, but we aren’t a charity for law firms. If it were a genuine case of hardship then of course we’d reconsider.”

Bird & Bird and Hammonds, which has recently appointed BPP as its sole LPC and GDL provider, are dealing with the problem individually.

FFW senior HR manager Sonia Cochet claimed: “We wrote to the college to express our concerns because we thought it was unfair for those students to attend a different law school to the rest of their intake.

“As far as I know the college is the only provider to expect the first instalment of fees to still be paid if a student changes their mind.”

Head of Kaplan Giles Proctor said: “This is particularly unfair now that there are so many more firm-specific LPCs. Students are being denied the chance to work with the provider and their firm before starting their training contracts.”