PEOPLE & BUSINESS

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Mohamed Al Fayed, a leading London-based retailer, has paid the pounds 36,000 legal costs of a firm of solicitors, Finers, after the lawyers sent the Sheriff of London's men to his house.

According to The Lawyer magazine, the Harrods boss had been trying to sue Emanoule Antiques of London over four pairs of candelabras which he had bought from the dealer and which he alleged were fakes.

Philip Rubens, the partner from Finers representing the antiques dealer, had already got Mr Fayed's six-year-old civil damages claim against the dealer struck out in the Court of Appeal last August.

The Appeal Court ruled that the proprietor of the dealership, Emanouel Naghi, had suffered prejudice because of the inordinate length of time the case had been hanging over him.

Under the terms of that judgment Mr Fayed had to pay Finers' costs as well as the costs of his own lawyer at DJ Freeman, Marina Polumba.

When Finers' bill was not paid, Mr Rubens issued a writ of fieri facias in January and the Sheriff of London duly sent his officers to Mr Fayed's home at 60 Park Lane, London.

The Sheriff's men were refused entry. Two days later a pounds 36,000 cheque arrived at Finers. Perhaps Tiny Rowland, Mr Fayed's old sparring partner, should give Finers a ring for a few tips.

Scotia, the unconventional drugs developer, has undergone another minor corporate reshuffle. Just two months after the departure of David Horrobin and Sherri Clarkson, the husband-and-wife team who founded the biotech company 20 years ago, Scotia has appointed Gerry Lafferty as group services director. As such he will add the role of company secretary to that of his current post as head of medical manufacturing.

The present company secretary, Kate Marr, "is leaving the company to spend more time with her family", according to Scotia.

The group's shares peaked at more than 700p in the beginning of 1997, and then tanked. They rose 2.5p yesterday to 362.5p.

Lord Blyth of Rowington, the Boots boss, is set to succeed Lord Alexander of Weedon at the helm of NatWest, it would appear.

But who is Lord Blyth? And where, for that matter, is Rowington?

A Scot, educated at Spiers School and Glasgow University, Lord Blyth now lives in the West Midlands village of Rowington. He was knighted in 1985 and awarded a life peerage in 1995. His first big job was at Mobil Oil, where he was a director from 1963 to 1969. Since then he has been a director of Joseph Lucas, general manager of Lucas Aerospace, and head of Defence Sales at the Ministry of Defence. He has also been group managing director of Plessey, and served as chairman of the prime minister's advisory panel on the Citizen's Charter. He lists his interests as skiing, tennis, paintings and theatre

Which is all fine and dandy, but doesn't exactly over-endow Lord Blyth with experience at running a national high street bank. There again, Lord Alexander was a leading barrister ...

There's one way for a woman to beat the so-called "glass ceiling" in corporate Britain, and that is to get in before anyone has a chance to build one. Glass ceiling, that is.

Jodi Berg, 47, a solicitor and a mother of two, has just been appointed the first ever Independent Complaints Reviewer for the Land Registry.

The Registry, which plays an important role in all property transactions, was re-awarded its Charter mark in 1995 "in recognition of the excellence of its service to the public" (it says here) and has just applied for a third Charter Mark this year.

Mrs Berg, currently chairman of an NHS Trust in south-east London, says: "My top priority is to ensure that members of the public and their advisors have full confidence in the fairness and impartiality of the new independent review system for the Land Registry."

Here's Nick Land, senior partner at Ernst & Young, consoling himself over the collapse of the proposed merger with the rival Big Six firm KPMG.

Is this what happens to senior partners who preside over failed merger negotiations? Happily Mr Land is merely posing in one of the firm's fleet of staff minibuses, which have been repainted to publicise the exhibition of paintings by Pierre Bonnard, sponsored by Ernst & Young, that kicked off at the Tate gallery last week.

Mind you, if there are recriminations over the failed merger, at least Mr Land's got a trade to go to.

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