It's been a bad week for…

Lord Irvine, whose advisers are set on making the Lord Chancellor more cuddly and will not rest until he becomes the "People's Derry". The Lord Chancellor has to defend his position because Jack Straw wants to set up a justice ministry with himself as head. Lord Irvine's downsizing will involve a visit to the set of Brookside and meetings with agony aunts to see if they can offer legal advice.

Gazumping. Conveyancing is to be radically changed to stop gazumping. Under new proposals, the seller and not the buyer will pay for the survey, local government property searches will be speeded up, and it will be up to the estate agent to check whether the seller is complying with the rules before the property is put on the market. The aim of this is to cut the average time between the initial offer and exchange of contracts from eight weeks to a matter of days – thus offering less opportunity for the gazumper to gazump. The Government abandoned initial proposals to make gazumping a crime.

Divorce lawyers – a professor has devised a way to predict whether marriages will work, thus potentially putting thousands of family lawyers out of business. Marriage expert Professor John Gottman has composed a three-minute quiz designed to show whether couples will divorce within six years.