‘A man of great integrity and warmth’ – Hogan Lovells mourns death of partner Crispin Rapinet

The white-collar crime, fraud and investigations partner held a number of senior roles at transatlantic firm

Tributes have been paid to Crispin Rapinet, a white-collar crime, fraud and investigations partner at Hogan Lovells, whose death has been announced by the firm.

Rapinet, who was diagnosed with lung cancer, passed away suddenly in Malta at the end of June, aged 59. He spent his 35-year career at Hogan Lovells and its predecessor firms, developing a practice in international cross-border complex fraud, bribery and corruption cases. 

He led that practice, acting in celebrated cases including the collapse of BCCI Bank, the Lehman Brothers litigation, in which he represented Standard Chartered Bank, and the multi-jurisdictional Nortel bankruptcy litigation, in which he represented UK pension interests. 

One of his last cases, in 2022, saw him act in one of the most significant civil fraud disputes ever heard in the UK, the $800m Al Rajaan litigation against Kuwait’s Public Institution of Financial Security (PIFSS).

Rapinet said then it was “an important precedent-setting case, in which the Court of Appeal [clarified], in a logical and considered manner, the proper scope and application of [the Lugano Convention]” in finding the English courts had no jurisdiction over his client, a senior Swiss lawyer.

Al Rajaan was perhaps the pinnacle of a career as it fully utilised the international dimensions of English legal practice, to which Rapinet was personally committed. He led the firm’s Asia and Middle East practice for eight years until 2013, having also spent five years in post-handover Hong Kong from 1998.

As an Asia-based partner, he sat on the firm’s international management committee, where he was an influential figure in the wake of the merger between Lovells and Hogan & Hartson in 2010, helping to articulate and communicate the firm’s values to partners, staff, clients and the wider world.

The firm’s deputy CEO, Michael Davison, said he was a role model “which played to all his natural strengths”.

Rapinet was deeply invested in the future of his firm. Nowhere was that truer than his work as a training principal, in which he touched the lives of dozens of trainees and sought to improve the profession’s diversity. 

In a joint statement with CEO Miguel Zaldivar, Davison said: “Crispin was incredibly passionate about broadening access to the profession, creating an inclusive environment and supporting our talented junior lawyers, a role he undertook with great skill and care.”

Rapinet successively led the implementation of the SQE, a new system of training and qualification for solicitors in 2018, and in 2021, piloted a new UK development programme for black and ethnic minority trainees, a first for the UK legal market

That, and his pro bono work, marked him out. Rapinet’s support of social inclusion and responsible business spanned legal advice, skills development and community volunteering. His interests, like his energy, were seemingly inexhaustible, ranging from supporting North Islington Law Centre, ‘Debate It’ – Hogan Lovells’ school debating programme, and pro bono work in Hong Kong.

His work as a trustee for St. Luke’s Community Centre in London saw him steer the South Islington centre to financial sustainability over five years, offering a wide range of community services to residents of all ages, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

He was also a trustee director of Youth Business International and sat on the board of the SEED Initiative on sustainable development and the advisory board of Model Westminster, which teaches students about politics and policy.

Zaldivar said: “He was relentless in his commitment to ensuring that we remembered that we are all part of the global community of Hogan Lovells, each with our part to play. His sense of humour and warmth will be sorely missed.”

Rapinet was a constant presence at the firm’s press parties and generous with his time and insight with journalists. Scrupulously professional, his easy manner, keen insights and broad hinterland made for engaging and thoughtful copy, which he created naturally. He was the lead partner on the firm’s bi-annual Steering the Course report and annual Bribery & Corruption Report, eagerly consumed by clients and journalists alike.  

Rapinet conveyed a sense of amiable excellence, dry wit and keen intelligence to this author. 

Former colleague Stuart Evans, of Spencer West, recalled the younger Rapinet as part of “a team full of strong, dynamic characters who worked hard and played hard.”

“Crispin epitomised that approach,” he said, “with his sharp wit, infectious laugh and willingness to find humour when the opportunity presented itself.”

Another former colleague, Ed John, of Keystone Law, said Rapinet was: “A man of great integrity and warmth, who showed that by putting people above the job, the work was also exemplary, as a result of building a loyal team of co-operative and tightly-knit people who looked out for each other and who had a brilliant role model.”

Zaldivar and Davison recalled a man “who was a talented lawyer, an incredible colleague and a friend,” adding: “He will be deeply missed by so many of us, and our thoughts are with his wife Ruth and his three children Juliette, Francesca and Zach at this very sad time.”

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