Pembroke: These products are tested on lawyers

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It seems things are no longer so luvvy-duvvy down at Body Shop, purveyor of environmentally sound shampoos and soaps to the masses. The company raised on a love-thy-neighbour policy is turning on its own in a flurry of writs.

The dispute involves Anne Downer, Body Shop's head francisee in Singapore, who owns the rights to 12 shops in the Far East. Body Shop kicked off the legal action last week when it filed a writ against Ms Downer claiming that her right to operate the stores in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Taiwan had been terminated. Ms Downer, who has held the franchise for 10 years, responded on Sunday with a writ of her own.

Body Shop is becoming all too familiar with m'learned friends. It is only three months since the company won a libel action against Channel Four for a documentary screened last May.

Has Sir Denys Henderson, chairman of ICI, downsized himself and all his head office staff out of a job? It looks very much like it from a notice on the electronic mail system at the company's head office in London.

At 9.04 yesterday morning, a message flashed around the company's screens saying: 'With effect from Monday 8 Nov 93 Head Office will no longer be manned and available for use at any time of the day or night.'

Is this the ultimate restructuring: the un-manned head office? 'It refers to a change in our security arrangements,' a crest-fallen ICI spokesman said. 'But someone's English obviously let them down a bit.'

Here's a stupid thing: an indoor rowing championship. Clearly short of ideas, Perpetual Portfolio Management is running later this month, for corporate teams to puff away on those infernal machines that Pembroke understands are popular in modern gymnasiums.

The organisers are hoping they can beat last year's number of entries (six) and have attracted the Olympic gold medallists Steve Redgrave and the Searle brothers. Perpetual is well up to speed on the whole thing. Asked who won last year, a spokesman said: 'Do you know, I can't remember.'

ALondon solicitor is pounds 1m richer this week following a High Court judgment in his favour. Sarosh Zaiwalla undertook several cases on behalf of the Indian High Commission, then fell into dispute over fees. He had sought settlement out of court but the high commission has frustrated his attempts and, according to the Indian Express, 'cast themselves in the mould of vainglorious zamindars who would ruin their households in ungainly litigation.'

'It's all over now after three years,' a relieved Mr Zaiwalla said, and said his costs would be about pounds 450,000.

His relationship with the high commission remains strangely cordial. 'Even after I sued them, they still gave me more work,' he said.

The republican surge continues Down Under with the launch of Australia's new plastic dollars 10 note. The new note, issued on Monday, is the latest in a series of new silky polymer notes that are gradually replacing the old paper bills. The idea is that they last longer (about 10 years) and are more difficult to counterfeit. But the dollars 10 has other distinctive qualities.

When the dollars 5 banknote was issued, it featured the Queen who, for the time being, is Australian head of state. But members of the republican lobby soon found they could rub the Queen's face off the notes if they tried hard enough.

This time the authorities have gone one better. No Queen at all. Instead the notes feature that well-known cultural attache and Betjeman of the bush, AB 'Banjo' Patterson, composer of Waltzing Matilda. We can assume that the Australian Prime Minister, Paul Keating, approves.

Perfunctory message from the Brewers' Society. 'A society delegation met today with the Chancellor of the Exchequer and called for him to cut excise duty in his budget at the end of the month.' And that was it.

(Photograph omitted)

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