Having taken early retirement from the bench in April after just four years of service, former High Court judge Sir Bernard Eder has returned to private practice at his former set, Essex Court Chambers, where he will serve as an arbitrator or mediator in disputes.
Eder’s affiliation with Essex Court dates back four decades. Called to the Bar at Inner Temple in 1975, he became a member of 4 Essex Court where he specialised in commercial litigation and international arbitration. He was took silk in 1990 and became a judge of the High Court in 2011 where he sat in the Commercial Court and the Queen’s Bench Division. He presided over high-profile cases including a dispute between property tycoons, Vincent and Robert Tchenguiz, and the Serious Fraud Office.
It is considered a rarity for a High Court judge to be asked to return to sit on a Commercial Court case and it is understood that Eder has not been retained on the ongoing Tchenguiz dispute however this could potentially change should resources become available.
Speaking to Legal Business, Eder said:’Yes, I have returned to Essex Court as an arbitrator and mediator. In addition, I was appointed as an International Judge at the Singapore International Commercial Court [SICC] in early May and, in that capacity, I will be travelling to India this September to promote the work of the SICC. I am sure that the SICC will be a great success. I will also teach in various places including Singapore, Hong Kong, Jerusalem, Malta and London.’
On why he chose Essex Court Chambers, Eder added: ‘There were various possibilities. But I know Essex Court Chambers. That is where I spent over 35 years as a barrister and I would like to think that they’re one of the best! I have known and worked with the clerks, David Grief and Joe Ferrigno, for many years. I was on the appointment committee in 1980 that selected David as senior clerk.’
Although only 62 years old, Eder served as a judge for only four years and could have remained on the bench until 2022. Other notable step downs include Sir Nicholas Stadlen who retired after five years in the High Court due to family health reasons.
It has been widely debated in the legal market about the clear declining morale in the judiciary, with a recent survey conducted by the Judicial Institute at University College London in February showing that two thirds of salaried judges feel less respected by society than they were ten years ago while issues of pay, pensions, and working conditions were also cited as factors.