David Gilbert

Partner - Property and Real Estate

David is a highly regarded commercial property lawyer who has advised on some of New Zealand’s largest property transactions and developments.  He specialises in acquisitions, developments, and leasing.

David advises both the public and private sector, including international clients seeking to complete large developments in New Zealand.  He routinely represents major asset managers in their property portfolio requirements.  David’s clients operate in a range of sectors, such as hospitality, health, telecommunications, retail, agriculture, military, transport, and energy.

He has extensive experience in due diligence, and the acquisition, development and disposal of land, retail premises, and office complexes.  David is skilled at putting together complex acquisition agreements, project contracts and commercial subdivisions, including for shopping centres and industrial parks.  He deals frequently with Overseas Investment Act requirements.

Sought after for his expertise in property development, David advises both public and private, residential and commercial property developers.  He has assisted clients with many prominent retail and development leasing projects.  His leasing expertise includes reviewing and coordinating complex commercial design, build and lease arrangements, property portfolio management, leasing disputes, and facilities management.  He has leading market knowledge of triple net lease structures, having advised on New Zealand’s largest portfolio sale of triple net leased assets.

David is recognised in leading legal directories, including Chambers Asia-Pacific and The Legal 500 Asia Pacific.  He is renowned by clients for his strategic thinking and ability to succinctly capture the commercial aspects of any transaction.  Clients appreciate his “significant commercial experience and understanding in the property field” – Chambers Asia-Pacific 2022.  As one client puts it: “He’s very practical, helpful and offers good commercial advice” – Chambers Asia-Pacific 2020.

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Professional background

Recent work

Advising Receivers on complex residential development

Acting for the Receivers on a large and complex residential scheme north of Auckland. The development was spread over multiple titles with varying levels of existing infrastructure and agreements relating to future development.  We worked with the Receivers to understand the implications of these agreements and detail the best sales process to assist in the repayment of debt.

Large-scale tenant portfolios

Acting for multiple large-scale tenants across New Zealand.   We are adept at managing large tenant portfolios.  Our experience in managing the business as usual allows the opportunity to add real value to the portfolios and to deal with portfolio wide issues such as seismic and COVID-19 on an efficient and proactive basis.

Significant urban public transport proposal

Working with New Zealand’s largest urban public transport operator on the proposed development of what will be New Zealand’s first fully electrified bus depot.   The scale of the proposal provided multiple challenges and required a hybrid approach to development risk, and apportionment of responsibilities given the unique facilities and infrastructure involved.

Tower’s relocation to innovative new premises

Advising publicly listed insurance company Tower in its move of its head office to a new, premium-grade, 6 Green Star building in the Auckland CBD that will have cutting edge technology aimed at saving energy and cutting waste. The move is an important one for Tower and is symbolic of a significant shift to grow and innovate by adopting the latest digital and data technology, while at the same time developing an agile and innovative working environment.   We assisted Tower in the negotiation of the development agreements and the transitional arrangements on exiting their existing premises.


  • 1997, England and Wales
  • 1992, New Zealand


  • LLB, BCom, University of Otago


  • Commercial Leasing
  • Infrastructure
  • Major Projects
  • Property Acquisitions and Disposals
  • Property Development
  • Property Receiverships


  • Ranked as a leading Real Estate lawyer, Chambers Asia-Pacific, 2020-2022
  • Ranked as a Leading Individual – Real Estate and Construction, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, 2018-2022
  • Ranked as a Notable Practitioner – Project Development and Real Estate Acquisitions, IFLR1000
  • Recognised for Real Estate Law, Best Lawyers
  • Partner in MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ internationally recognised Tier 1 Real Estate team, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific