In a career spanning nearly six decades, Professor Bob Baxt made a distinguished contribution to the education of Australian directors on governance and competition law and practice.
A practitioner, educator, regulator, writer and educator, he had a life-long devotion to improving the law and its practice.
Born in Shanghai in June 1938, of Russian parents, Bob and his family came to Australia in 1947. He was educated at Newington College and the University of Sydney. He started his legal career at M Rosenbloom and Co, completing his articles with John Howard, who went on to become Prime Minister and a good friend.
He and his wife, Ruth, moved to Harvard Law School in late 1963 to complete his Masters of Law. Returning to Australia in late 1964, he joined Freehill Hollingdale and Page before moving into academia at Monash University prior to his appointment as Chair of the Trade Practices Commission. He returned to private practice in 1991 at Allens Arthur Robinson and rejoined Freehills in 2005, becoming an emeritus partner.
In 1975, Bob authored the company law section of the inaugural Chartered Directors’ Course. More than 40 years later, the continued success and relevance of the AICD’s Company Directors Course is a testament to this work.
He received a Centenary Medal in 2001 and in 2003, was made an Officer, Order of Australia for service to the law in the areas of trade practice, competition, taxation and corporate law, and legal education.
Becoming chair of the AICD’s Law Committee in 1994, he guided AICD policy agenda on law reform. In 2016, the AICD published the 21st Edition of Duties and Responsibilities of Directors and Officers, a text that for more than 30 years has been essential reading for directors, lawyers, academics and governance practitioners.
As David Gonski AC FAICDLife noted in his foreword to that edition: “I continue to be in awe, as I was 40 years ago, of how Bob can be so complete in his understanding of the issues involved and yet so entertaining and forthright in his views.”
Bob Baxt is survived by wife, Ruth, daughters, Miriam and Simone, and three grandchildren. He will be deeply missed.