CIPA announces a review of the training, support and assessment of students

Published: 7 March 2019

At its meeting on 6 March, 2019, Council considered at length the recent issue of the moderation of the FD4 pass mark and the education and assessment of patent attorney students in general.

With a larger number of candidates than would be expected falling short of the published 50% pass mark for the 2018 FD4 examination, the PEB reviewed the marking of the examination and revised the pass mark threshold to 47%.  It is common for this form of moderation to take place in professional examinations where the results fall outside of the expected parameters.  The PEB was created to be independent of CIPA in terms of its governance and finances.  Council fully supports the PEB’s decision to moderate the FD4 examination pass mark, under the expert guidance of the PEB’s lay members.

Council recognises that communicating the low pass rate and the revision of the pass mark during EQE week was not appropriate, given the existing pressures on candidates sitting the European exams.  Council has asked the PEB to ensure that its communications are better timed in the future.  This was a well-intentioned communication by the PEB, which sought to explain the revision to the pass mark before results were sent to candidates; however, the timing of the announcement was not sensitive to the stress that students experience during the EQEs.

Council was disturbed to learn that examiners, members of the PEB and CIPA staff have been subject to vitriol and potentially defamatory allegations through anonymous emails and via social media.  There can be no place for such actions in this profession and this must stop.  There are formal channels for raising concerns about the examination system and Council asks that those who give so much of their time and expertise to the PEB are afforded the respect they deserve.  Students and examiners are members of CIPA and all have the full and equal support of Council.

Council resolved that, through the Education Committee, CIPA will lead a review of the training, support and assessment of students, including consideration of best practice in other professions where appropriate.  We will work with the PEB, IPReg, our members and other stakeholders to develop the education and examination system to ensure that it produces patent attorneys with the knowledge, skills and abilities required to excel nationally and internationally.

Julia Florence, President
Vicki Salmon, Chair of Education Committee
Lee Davies, Chief Executive