Richard is a partner and the head of Gilbert + Tobin’s Disputes + Investigations group, as well as a member of Gilbert + Tobin’s Board of partners.
An experienced, strategic and pragmatic litigator, Richard specialises in significant commercial litigation (including class actions) and investigations. He regularly advises banks, large corporations and their boards on major dispute, regulatory and governance issues.
Richard has been involved in a wide range of substantial complex commercial litigation in Australian superior jurisdictions including the High Court. Issues raised in those disputes include class actions, cartel conduct, mergers, market disclosure, resources, confidential information, directors' duties, complex financial and banking products, market misconduct, securities, capital raisings, tax, contracts, financial services, infrastructure, funds management, insolvency and restructuring.
Richard is currently leading the team acting for Westpac in relation to separate investigations by ASIC and APRA in relation to the allegations of more than 23 million breaches of anti-money laundering laws. Richard is also leading the team defending against a class action regarding disclosure requirements relating to the same allegations. This matter is one of the largest and most high profile investigations in Australia for decades.
He previously led the team advising Westpac on the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry as well as the landmark Australian investigation and enforcement proceeding concerning BBSW.
Richard is ranked by all leading legal directories including Chambers Asia-Pacific which recognises him for Dispute Resolution and Financial Services Regulation.
Richard’s experience includes:
- Acting for Westpac in relation to a class action regarding its continuous disclosure obligations associated with alleged contraventions of anti-money laundering laws.
- Acting for QBE in relation to a class action regarding consumer credit insurance.
- Advising BT Financial Management and Westpac Life Insurance Services in relation to a class action concerning their superannuation cash product.
- Acting for the former CEO of Vocation Limited in relation to the ongoing class action against the company.
- Leading the Gilbert + Tobin team advising Westpac in relation to the Royal Commission into Misconduct in the Banking, Superannuation and Financial Services Industry.
- Advising Westpac in its defence of the high profile and complex ASIC prosecution concerning alleged manipulation of the Bank Bill Swap rate (BBSW) which is one of the largest ASIC investigations and prosecutions ever.
- Representing the former CEO of Vocation in relation to an ASIC prosecution for alleged breaches of the continuous disclosure regime and directors duties.
- Advising BT Financial Group in relation to its successful defence of the landmark ASIC prosecution concerning the delineation between personal and general advice with widespread ramifications for the wealth and financial advice industry.
- Advising Archer Capital in its A$200 million claim against Sage Plc.
- Advising Amcor in relation to the ACCC investigation and subsequent class action against it concerning alleged cartel behaviour.
- Advising on a range of significant and complex regulatory investigations and enforcements.
- Advising Seven Network in relation to a confidential independent investigation of allegations concerning its CEO.
Awards and Recognition
Richard is ranked as an industry leader in Dispute Resolution and Financial Services Regulation.
Richard is recognised in the ‘Hall of Fame’ for Fintech and Financial Services Regulatory, and as a ‘Leading Individual’ for Disputes Resolution: Litigation and White-Collar Crime.
Richard is ranked as a ‘Litigation Star’.
Richard is recognised as a Best Lawyer in Litigation and Regulatory Practice.
"I like that his advice is always well thought through but clear. He doesn't try to take the middle of the road, he commits to an option and is happy to back himself."
Richard Harris is readily acknowledged by market sources as a "heavyweight player with a great reputation" in the contentious space, while a client who calls him "a key strategic adviser" cites his "depth of legal, commercial and strategic knowledge," his "very calm and patient manner" and the fact that he is "very pragmatic and good to deal with."
"He's a strategic thinker who sets a high standard for his team," comments one client, who adds: "He has a deep understanding of our business and key internal stakeholders."
“Richard Harris is a standout leader in the financial services industry.”
“Richard Harris is an exceptional litigation partner. I consider him to be one of our key trusted advisors, whom I rely on for providing sound, commercial and pragmatic advice.”
“Richard Harris’ experience in [regulatory compliance and investigations] is second to none. He provides huge value at the firm. Having led major regulatory investigations, litigation and the Royal Commission, his experience is unrivalled.”
Widely acknowledged by commentators as a "prominent name in the market, with a very strong following" and "an amazing practice." Clients extol him as "a key strategic adviser and the kind of person you go to for bet-the-farm litigation," with an ability "to dive deep into all parts of a business and get across an incredible breadth of material." He is best known for his representation of household-name clients facing intense regulatory scrutiny or litigation entailing significant reputational risk.
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