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The Independent Online
A HIGH COURT judge has criticised the fees charged by leading libel law firm Peter Carter- Ruck and Partners during a libel action against The Mirror as "grossly extravagant".

The comments were made by Mr Justice Morland during an interlocutory hearing earlier this month in defamation proceedings brought by Mr Carter- Ruck's client, Victor Kiam. Mr Kiam is the American entrepreneur who famously appeared in his own ads for Remington, the electric razor company, declaring: "I liked it so much that I bought the company."

According to Legal Week, Mr Justice Morland said he was "staggered" by the pounds 19,758 figure put forward by the firm for the half-day hearing. He awarded costs to The Mirror.

The law firm said that it was lodging an appeal against the ruling, including the findings on costs.

The firm said that it was confident that the costs were reasonable, and that the recent law reforms brought in by Lord Woolf made it more difficult for courts to assess such amounts.

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ROEL PIEPER in effect talked himself out of a job earlier this year, after Philips in the Netherlands decided the executive vice-president had been too free with his soundbites.

Obviously playing to his strengths, Mr Pieper has now joined Belgium's Lernout & Hauspie Speech Products (LHSP) to take charge of strategy and the firm's expansion in the US.

LHSP has just turned a $30.75m third-quarter loss into a $10.45m profit, with third-quarter revenues up from $54.86m to $87.47m.

BLAIR BABES may be all of a dither over the euro but not Hanna Gronkiewicz- Waltz, 47, governor of Poland's central bank for the past seven years.

"The future of the zloty is the euro," she told the Dusseldorf industrial club confidently last week. Instead of blithering about "life of the next parliament" or some such formula, she actually named dates for the zloty/euro changeover: between 2005 and 2008.

She reported that Poland is already close to the Maastricht treaty criteria on budget deficit and public sector borrowing..

But Ms Gronkiewicz-Waltz - known as "the iron lady" back in Warsaw - admitted that inflation is still a real problem. She is credited with bringing inflation down from 70 per cent seven years ago to something over 10 per cent now and wants it cut to 4 per cent by 2003 when Poland is due to join the European Union.

LAST FRIDAY we ran an article saying that Carol Fisher, the head of the Government's Central Office of Information (COI), had been sacked twice from previous jobs.

We are happy to make clear that she was in fact twice made redundant, and has never been sacked in her career.

A YOUNG British company has been banned from printing swear words on golf balls by a leading golf company, Titleist.

Professional Sports Partnerships Limited (PSP) - a Surrey-based sports marketing company - has recently launched a new website called yourownballs.com. The site provides a personalised golf ball service, wherein customers can get the words of their choice emblazoned on their balls.

Titleist is the world's largest golf ball manufacturer. It has deals with many famous professionals worldwide, some of whom have their names printed on their balls.

For example, Tiger Woods has "Tiger" printed on his Titleists, whilst Ryder Cup sensation Sergio Garcia has "El Nino" on his.

However, when it came to personalised messages, it was a big no from Titleist if the messages had rude words.

Jamie Cunningham, a director at PSP, says: "When we asked Titleist to print six types of our ready-to-tee-off range, two were refused. These were expected to be our best sellers, namely "oh shit" and "crap golfer". When we asked the reasons why, the response was that it is company policy for no "inappropriate words" to be printed on Titleist balls. They would not even allow asterisks in place of the vowels."

Quite right, too.

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