IP Inclusive has responded to IPReg’s July 2022 consultation on its 2023/24 business plan, budget and practising fees.
IPReg (the IP Regulation Board) regulates patent and trade mark attorneys registered in the UK. As such its activities impact on a significant section of the UK IP professions. It has provided support for IP Inclusive and works with us to improve equality, diversity and inclusion in its regulated community.
The IP Inclusive response is broadly supportive of IPReg’s proposed business plan and budget. In particular we strongly support the proposal not only to continue the discretionary fee waiver, but also to extend its scope beyond hardship resulting specifically from the Covid-19 pandemic. This is something we advocated for in our response to IPReg’s 2021 practising fees consultation (see here). We believe it is an effective and proportionate way to ensure an inclusive approach to regulation, and will be particularly important in view of the proposed increase to the practising fees in 2023, set in the context of a rising cost of living and a looming UK recession.
We are also pleased to see that the scope of the proposed waiver is sufficiently broad to encompass professionals who – for example because of a disability or caring (including parenting) responsibility – are still able to work to at least some extent but are nevertheless suffering financial hardship and finding practising fee levels problematic.
Our submissions include comments on the equality impact assessment accompanying the 2023/24 proposals. These urge IPReg to take proper account of the impact of its Practising Fee Regulations on parents and carers of all genders. We suggest that IPReg consider improvements such as:
- Recognising that parental leave may be taken by people of all genders, not just women, and may not necessarily be linked to a pregnancy;
- Allowing a pro rata fee reimbursement if a registrant begins a period of parental leave mid-year; and
- Treating adoption leave in the same way as parental leave.
As usual IP Inclusive offers to continue to work with IPReg to progress its diversity- and access-related initiatives, and expresses appreciation of the financial and other support that IPReg continues to provide for our work in the regulated sector.
You can access our full submissions here.