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Peter Butler AM RFD


Peter is a highly experienced litigator who regularly advises Australia’s largest companies on Corporations Law matters, contractual disputes, class actions and regulatory issues.



Peter has practised as a litigator in Sydney, Melbourne, London and New York, and regularly advises Australia’s largest companies on Corporations Law matters, contractual disputes, construction disputes, class actions and regulatory issues.

The former Head of Litigation for Herbert Smith Freehills, Peter has held several management roles within the firm including Managing Partner. He also spent two years on secondment to Reuters in London as Special Counsel for the Board and Head of Compliance.

Peter regularly lectures on a variety of litigation topics including directors’ obligations, privilege and the conduct of litigation in the Supreme and Federal courts. Peter is co-author of Class Actions in Australia in Litigation Issues in the Distribution of Securities: An Internal Perspective.

Recognised as one of Australia’s strongest litigators by Australian Financial Review ‘Best Lawyers’ in Class Actions,  ADR and Litigation 2017; PLC Which Lawyer? Yearbook; Who’s Who Legal: Australia 2018; Best Lawyers in Australia 2019.

Industry experience

Peter has advised the Commonwealth, New South Wales and Victorian governments on a range of issues etc. He has regularly advised corporations in Australia and overseas, and also the boards of corporations.

Major clients he has acted for include ANZ, NAB, CBA, Macquarie Bank, Westpac, Caltex, Leucadia, Honeywell, Telstra, BHP, CSR, Lend Lease, University of NSW, Shell, Coles Myer, Santos, Cash Converters Ltd, Johnson & Johnson, Ashley Services Ltd, Reuters Plc and many others. He has advised investment banks and other financial institutions in relation to securities market investigations by ASIC and APRA. He has acted in several class actions claims for clients, such as Johnson and Johnson, Cash Converters and Ashley Holdings.


Other recent experience includes:

  • acted for Lend Lease in issues related to the construction of Barangaroo
  • acted for Johnson and Johnson in a class action (successfully resolved after a 16 week hearing)
  • acting for Cash Converters on two separate class actions
  • advising Standard and Poor in relation to class action issues in the Federal Court
  • acting for Ashley Holdings on a class action
  • acting for the CEO of a public company against ASIC following the resolution of a class action
  • acted for a bank regarding ASIC enquires in the context of a possible class action
  • acting for Leucadia National Corporation in substantial litigation regarding a rectification claim and other matters against Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.




Peter became a partner of the Melbourne office at Freehills at 29 years of age after graduating from the University of Melbourne. He was seconded to Sydney office at Freehills in the early 1990s, and assisted the firm in a number of management roles before accepting a secondment to London to work as Special Counsel for the Board and as Head of Compliance of Reuters Plc. He became Freehills’ first Head of Litigation in 2000. Since then he has maintained a litigation practice and has returned full time to his practice following his resignation as Managing Partner in February 2010.

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