In brief: Lord Irvine offers judicial olive branch

The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg QC, has given the strongest indication yet that he will extend exemption for civil court fees, in a move which has been welcomed by legal pressure groups. Speaking at the Lord Mayor's annual dinner for judges last week, Lord Irvine said: “I will be considering whether the existing exemptions can be extended to those receiving other categories of benefit than income support, perhaps in particular those on the job seeker's allowance, the disability working allowance and perhaps also family credit.” Vicki Chapman, head of policy at the Legal Action Group, described the speech as an olive branch for good relations with the judiciary. “I think he is coming round to seeing the sense in extending exemption,” she said.