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Expertise


Howard has more than 30 years’ commercial dispute experience and is the firm's state managing partner for Victoria.

He has an active practice in complex commercial litigation and 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 and Commissions of Inquiry.

Howard is recognised by Who’s Who Legal internationally as a leading provider of legal services for investigations, and has been listed for Business Crime, Investigations & Asset Recovery in the Australia guide since 2019. He is also recognised by The Best Lawyers in Australia 2017 to 2025 edition 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, and Leading Australian White Collar Crime, Corporate Crime & Regulatory Investigations Lawyer. Doyle's Guide has listed Howard as a leading Victorian Commercial Litigation and Dispute Resolution Lawyer in 2020, 2022, 2023 and 2024. As well as, Doyles Guide has listed Howard as a Leading Victorian Administrative & Public Lawyer for 2023.

Experience

Howard's experience includes:

Commercial Disputes

Howard advises on litigation in the Supreme and Federal Courts (both in Melbourne and interstate) involving all forms of commercial disputes, including contract, directors’ duties, joint ventures, trust disputes and class actions.

Commercial Crime

Howard acts in defence of companies and individuals being investigated or prosecuted for alleged breaches of the Corporations Act, the Australian Consumer Law and Federal and State criminal law. Over the last twelve 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 relating to India, Malaysia, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry

Howard has acted in numerous Royal Commissions and Commissions of Inquiry, including the following:

  • in 2020, Howard is acting for one of the major parties involved in the Board of Inquiry into the COVID-19 Hotel Quarantine Program
  • in 2020, Howard is leading the firm's team acting for four parties involved in the Special Commission of Inquiry into the Ruby Princess 
  • 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 2013/2014, Howard acted for one of the parties being investigated by the Royal Commission into the Home Insulation Program
  • 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.

Regulatory Investigations

Howard has substantial experience acting for companies and individuals in responding to, defending and resolving investigations and prosecutions brought by Federal and State regulators. He has significant experience in developing strategy and tactics for clients from dealing with many regulators, including but not limited to:

  • 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) and its interstate equivalent anti-corruption agencies
  • Office of the Chief Examiner.

White Collar Criminal Defence

Howard has many years’ experience in advising both companies and individuals in dealing with all forms of commercial crime, including fraud claims, foreign bribery and anti-corruption matters, cartel charges as well as prosecutions under Federal and Victorian criminal law.

Insurance Coverage Disputes

In dealing with commercial and criminal disputes, Howard has developed a substantial knowledge of Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance issues and claims. In addition, he also has in-depth experience in advising companies and individuals in acting against insurers in pursuing claims in a commercial context, for example business interruption claims, fidelity claims and business insurance issues generally.

Membership

  • Australian Institute of Administrative Law
  • Australian Corporate Lawyers Association

Publications

20 December 2023 - Knowledge

Market manipulation – an evolving space to watch

#Superannuation, Funds Management & Financial Services, #White Collar Crime & Regulatory Investigations

Two recent ASIC investigations shed light on Section 1041A of the Corporations Act 2001, detailing what market manipulation is and the consequences for those found doing it.

13 September 2023 - Knowledge

Timely reminder to directors that your responsibilities do not end when a liquidator is appointed

#Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency, #Dispute Resolution & Litigation, #Corporate & Commercial Law

ASIC’s recent decision to ban a director who was involved in three failed companies is a timely reminder to directors that their responsibilities do not end after the appointment of a liquidator.

22 August 2023 - Knowledge

Indemnity and D&O Insurance: A brief summary for directors and officers

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation, #Regulatory

This article covers the key sources of financial protection for directors and officers, including indemnity under a company’s constitution and/or in a Deed of Access, Indemnity and Insurance, and Directors and Officers Insurance (D&O Insurance).

01 August 2023 - Knowledge

Operation Sandon: Reforms to local government and town planning in Victoria

#Property, Planning & Development, #Government

Following the release of its report on Operation Sandon, we look at IBAC’s recommendation to remove statutory planning responsibilities from local councillors in the context of a current focus on housing supply.

05 July 2023 - Knowledge

Top issues referred to the new National Anti-Corruption Commission

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation, #White Collar Crime & Regulatory Investigations

The newly opened National Anti-Corruption Commission has already received 44 referrals for potential investigations. We look at issues that have been referred and what the NACC can do.

31 May 2023 - Knowledge

Supreme Court expands interpretation of 'address' under the Corporations Act

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation

A recent Supreme Court decision has confirmed that the right to inspect and obtain copies of the company register under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) includes access to members’ email addresses where nominated as a means of communication.

10 January 2023 - Knowledge

Definition of ‘adverse material’ under the microscope – Case Summary of John Charles Woodman v IBAC [2022] VSC 684

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation

Ginnane J in John Charles Woodman v IBAC concerned Operation Sandon, the longest-running investigation of the IBAC, held ‘adverse material’ includes the footnotes underpinning the ‘adverse opinion or comment’ outlined in a draft report.

14 December 2022 - Knowledge

Whistleblower regime for public officials: Overview of the Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 2013 (Cth) protects public officials who make public interest disclosures. This article provides a summary of the Act's legislative framework.

04 October 2022 - Knowledge

Introducing Australia’s National Anti-Corruption Commission

#Dispute Resolution & Litigation, #White Collar Crime & Regulatory Investigations

We explain what the federal government’s proposed National Anti-Corruption Commission is, how it will be set up, and what its powers are.