Legal Business

Justice Eder returns to Essex Court after early retirement from the bench


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.

Legal Business

Bar round-up: Essex Court and Outer Temple Chambers boost their ranks


It’s been a good summer so far for Essex Court Chambers and Outer Temple Chambers, with Daniel Oudkerk QC recently moving from 11 King’s Bench Walk to Essex Court, while David Russell QC and Robin Barclay have joined Outer Temple.

Oudkerk QC took silk in 2010 and focuses on employment disputes and commercial work, having acted for the successful claimants in the landmark conspiracy and team poaching litigation Tullett Prebon v BGC, as well as for the Swiss IDB ContiCap in an Unfair Competition Act claim.

Referred to by The Legal 500 as ‘very client friendly’ (11KBW is ranked first tier in employment), Oudkerk has also previously been instructed by investment banks, Lloyd’s brokers, hedge funds and public bodies.

‘Employment litigation is becoming increasingly complex and like Daniel, many of our members have seen a shift to a wider application of employment dispute resolution into mainstream commercial disputes and litigation,’ said Essex Court’s senior clerk David Grief.

‘Daniel and his employment and commercial law practice will be a superb fit and a perceivable asset for Essex Court Chambers, its members and its collective reputation.’

And further enhancing Essex Court’s profile, Geraldine Andrews QC was appointed a Justice to the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court on 25 July, to take effect in October.

Meanwhile, Outer Temple welcomed Australian barrister David Russell QC (pictured) as a door tenant, while Robin Barclay has joined its commercial group from 2 Hare Court.

Originally a solicitor, the veteran Russell QC – who practises in the Middle East – was called to the Bar in 1977 and was admitted in Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Courts of the Dubai International Finance Centre. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in Australia in 1986 and has since acted for the Commonwealth and state governments.

Fellow addition Barclay is a specialist in broad financial & regulatory crime, particularly market abuse, insider dealing, serious fraud, corruption and corporate crime. He is currently acting for clients in the Operation Tabernula case – the largest insider trading investigation ever conducted by the FCA as well as the prolific Operation Saturn investigation in 2010.

Referred to as one of the ‘leading criminal fraud juniors in the country’ by The Legal 500, Barclay has also acting on a $1bn SFO-prosecuted real estate fraud, and is independent counsel in an international FCA investigation into market abuse.

Legal Business

Nicholas Medcroft joins Wilberforce Chambers as Erskine makes key hires and two leading sets take on new head


Nicholas Medcroft has joined Wilberforce Chambers from Outer Temple Chambers in a week that has also seen Erskine Chambers welcome a three-barrister asset recovery team and leading sets 4 New Square and Essex Court Chambers take on a new head.

Medcroft is said by Legal 500 to be ‘the first person to turn to when it comes to matters relating to financial crime and banks.’ Specialising in professional negligence, business and banking, financial services and commercial fraud, he has worked on large scale litigation including acting for the Financial Reporting Council, alongside Fountain Court’s Tim Dutton QC, in the case against audit firm Deloitte over the collapse of the MG Rover Group.

Last year he enjoyed success on behalf of HSBC Private Bank alongside Richard Lissack QC in the bank’s long running dispute with Mr Shah.

In another high profile move, acquisitive Erskine Chambers this week announced that high-profile New Square Chambers commercial litigation barrister Stephen Smith QC will join its asset recovery team, alongside juniors Tim Akkouh and Emily Gillett, as the set moves to further boost its insolvency capability.

Smith QC’s arrival comes shortly after his successful long-running case JSC BTA Bank v Ablyazov – the largest fraud case ever to hit the English courts, in which he acted for longstanding client BTA. Akkouh and Gillett were two of his juniors on that case. The team joins shortly after the arrival of insolvency specialists Peter Arden QC from Enterprise Chambers and 11 Stone Buildings’ Raquel Agnello QC, who joined in January.

Head of Erskine Chambers Michael Todd QC, who returned to the practice in January following a year as chairman of the Bar Council, told Legal Business that the set is looking to rebuild its insolvency and asset recovery practice and build on its largely non-contentious company law base.

‘We’re keen to bring [it] back and do more of that – its why we brought in silks Peter Arden QC and 11 Stone Buildings’ Raquel Agnello QC earlier this year. Then, we were approached by Steven and his team wanting to join chambers. They thought, and we thought it was a good fit because a lot of their work and litigation arises out of breaches of fiduciary duty by directors.

‘It’s an extension of what we do. It will involve more litigation than we have been doing. It enables us to build on the expertise we’ve already got.’

In other bar news, Essex Court’s high profile head of chambers Gordon Pollock QC stepped down on 21 June after 21 years in the role and is succeeded by co-heads Richard Jacobs QC and Graham Dunning QC.

Under Pollock’s leadership, Essex Court has grown to become one of the largest commercial law sets in the country. In 1994, Essex Court became the first major commercial set to leave the Temple as Pollock led the move to 24-26 Lincoln’s Inn Fields.

New co-head Jacobs QC said: ‘Essex Court Chambers has been tremendously served by Gordon Pollock. Many members of chambers have been fortunate to work on cases with Gordon, who is one of the most outstanding commercial barristers of his generation, and whose skills as an advocate and in litigation have been supreme. All members have benefited from his leadership of chambers over so many years.’

Pollock, who has advised on such high profile cases as BCCI, acting for creditors of the Bank of England, will continue to practice from the chambers.

Elsewhere, 4 New Square has appointed Ben Hubble QC to succeed Sue Carr QC as head of chambers following her move to the High Court bench.

Hubble QC will hold his new position for a three-year term. His work of late has involved professional liability and disciplinary claims, including acting for the lead defence group in The Accident Group litigation – a mammoth insurance dispute involving 500 firms.

Carr QC joins the Queen’s Bench Division alongside former 39 Essex Street’s Robert Jay QC, recently famed for his handling of the Leveson enquiry.