Lord Irvine's climbdown

OVER the past two weeks, the Lord Chancellor has been forced to retreat on two major areas of reform. The first was the forced reduction of his powers, and the second was the removal of family law from no win-no fee agreements.

As soon as Lord Irvine's proposals for conditional fees in divorce cases were revealed, The Lawyer was the first publication to point out the inherent stupidity of such a move and strong campaigning from the Solicitors Family Law Association and Lord Meston ensured that it would not see the light of day.

Conspiracy theorists might suggest that this might be part of a Machiavellian plot to sap the energies of the Bill's opponents on an idea which was never likely to bear fruit, while the more fundamental changes pass through by the back door. The fact of the matter is that the Government is guilty of formulating legislative proposals on the hoof with an arrogant disregard for the views of the practitioners or those who matter most – the people.