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Howard Rapke


Howard has more than 25 years’ commercial dispute experience and is the national head of the firm’s Dispute Resolution and Litigation practice.

He has an active practice in complex commercial litigation and is regularly engaged in significant white collar criminal investigations and prosecutions involving a wide range of commercial criminal matters, regulatory investigations and large scale inquiries, including Royal Commissions.

Howard is recognised by Who’s Who Legal internationally as a leading provider of legal services for investigations, and was listed in Business Crime, Investigations & Asset Recovery in the Australia 2019 guide. He is also recognised by Best Lawyers as a leading practitioner in Litigation and Criminal Defence, and is listed in Doyle’s Guide as a Leading Victorian Commercial Litigation & Dispute Resolution Lawyer.


In the commercial crime area Howard acts in defence of persons being investigated or prosecuted experience in ‘white collar’ criminal matters. Over the last ten years he has been closely involved in major prosecutions brought in Australia under its foreign bribery laws.

At present Howard is involved in advising companies, directors and officers in foreign bribery investigations being conducted in or relating to India, Malaysia, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Cambodia.

Howard’s recent cases include:

  • defending alleged breaches of the Corporations Act and the Australian Consumer Law
  • acting on behalf of numerous directors and managers in respect of actions brought by Australian Securities and Investments Commission (the Australian equivalent of the UK Serious Fraud Office or the US Securities Exchange Commission) in respect of prosecutions for insider trading, breach of director’s duties and misuse of corporate assets
  • defending claims of breach of trust and breach of equitable duties on behalf of trustees in high net wealth family disputes.

He has extensive experience in dealing with investigations and prosecutions brought by various Federal and State regulators, including:

  • ASIC
  • ACCC
  • the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • the Victoria Police 
  • the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC)
  • the Independent Broad-based Anti- corruption Commission (IBAC)
  • Office of the Chief Examiner.

Howard has been involved in nine Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry. Some examples include:

  • in 2019/2020, Howard is leading the firm's team acting as Solicitors Assisting the Royal Commission into Management of Police Informants
  • in 2019, Howard acted for one of the parties involved in the Aged Care Royal Commission
  • in 2016/2017, Howard acted for one of the institutions being investigated by the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse
  • in 2014/2015, he acted for the Construction and Building Unions Superannuation fund (Cbus), one of Australia’s largest Industry Superannuation funds, in the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption
  • in 2006/2007, Howard represented various officers of AWB Ltd before the Cole Commission of Inquiry
  • in 2001/2002 he led the firm’s efforts in representing the State of Victoria before the Royal Commission into the Building & Construction Industry.


  • Australian Institute of Administrative Law
  • Australian Corporate Lawyers Association


  • Legal adviser to the Produce and Grocery Industry Ombudsman and the Horticulture Mediation Adviser’s office


27 June 2019 - Knowledge

Key case considers important trademark issues

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation

Trademarks are an important feature of many modern businesses, establishing a business’s presence in a market by assisting it to be recognisable to consumers in that market. The Trade Marks Act 1995 (Cth) (the Act) enables a person or business to protect, by way of registration, a sign that is used, or intended to be used, to distinguish goods or services dealt with or provided in the course of trade by a person from goods or services so dealt with or provided by any other person.

26 March 2019 - Knowledge

Will your employer protect you if the regulator comes knocking?

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation, #Corporate & Commercial Law

The news that IOOF’s CFO has secured separate legal representation to that of his company in Australian Prudential Regulation Authority’s action against five IOOF directors and executives has delivered an important reminder to all senior executives

08 October 2018 - Knowledge

Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector: Why individuals rather than corporations stand to lose the most

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation

The year opened with a high-profile royal commission with far-reaching consequences and significant fall-out - and the year is set to close with another. The recently announced Royal Commission into the Aged Care sector will tackle issues that go to the heart of our aging population – opening up the industry for a forensic grilling.