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Leading One Essex Court silk Jeffrey Gruder QC has quit to return to his former chambers, rival magic circle set Essex Court.
Gruder's defection, to the set, where he was a pupil and spent his first 15 years of practice, is believed to be the only senior lateral move between magic circle chambers since he left Essex Court seven years ago.
Gruder, who started at Essex Court on Wednesday last week, has built up a leading commercial practice. His return will consolidate Essex Court's dominance in the fields of arbitration, insurance and reinsurance, and shipping and maritime law.
Gruder says that One Essex lacks senior practitioners in his core areas of expertise, particularly shipping, international arbitration
and commodities, and to that extent his move is a strategic one.
One Essex Court's Paul Shrubsall says: "We are very sorry to see Jeffrey go, he has made a real contribution in his time here, but it was an amicable split.
"We have a lot of sympathy with him wanting to go back to those core areas of practice which has always been the difference between the two chambers."
Gruder also says his reasons for leaving Essex Court in 1993 are no longer relevant.
"At the time I wasn't happy with the proposed move from Temple to Lincoln's Inn. I feared we would lose our international reputation as a leading commercial chambers. However, my thinking has completely changed in the last seven years," he says.
Gruder is involved in the Standard Chartered Bank and Pakistan National Shipping litigation, that faces its second hearing in the Court of Appeal in March.
He is secretary of the Commercial Bar Association, a member of the London Court of International Arbitration and a panel member of the Lloyd's Arbitration Scheme.
Essex Court has also been joined by Sir Franklin Berman QC, following his retirement as legal adviser to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
These two appointments follow the set's acquisition of approximately 13,000 square feet of additional accommodation, which was thought at the time to be paving the way for the firm's expansion.