Sarah Sinclair

Chair and Partner - Construction and Infrastructure

Chair of the MinterEllisonRuddWatts partnership, Sarah is a highly-regarded construction and infrastructure specialist. She has extensive experience acting for both Government and private sector clients in large-scale, complex infrastructure projects. She is known for providing commercially pragmatic, strategic advice on infrastructure funding models, procurement strategies and contracting structures.

Sarah has extensive experience in combining the commercial components of a project with a deep understanding of procurement processes, particularly in pathfinder projects.

Sarah leads MinterEllisonRuddWatts’ roles on the Three Waters Reform Programme, City Rail Link project (CRL) and the anchor projects in Christchurch, and is adept at conceptualising strategy and navigating challenges inherent in projects carried out in the public eye. She also has particular expertise in Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), having acted for sponsors, banks or sub-contractors on all PPPs closed or brought to market in New Zealand to date.

Sarah sat on the Board of Infrastructure New Zealand from 2012-2019 and is an officer of the International Construction Projects Committee of the International Bar Association. She was recently appointed to the inaugural board for New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga – a new entity responsible for planning and prioritising the country’s infrastructure initiatives.

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Professional background

Recent work

Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) on the Three Waters Reform Programme

Advising DIA on the reform of the three waters sector. This is a large-scale and complex project that will be transformational for local government and the infrastructure sector in New Zealand.

Ports of Auckland on its Hydrogen Demonstration Project

Advising on legal, commercial and strategic aspects of the Hydrogen Demonstration Project, in support of Ports of Auckland’s 2040 carbon zero target. This includes corporate structures and funding, procurement strategies, tender documentation, drafting and negotiation of project agreements for design installation commissioning and operation of plant, and regulatory and legislative requirements.

Ministry of Transport on Light Rail in Auckland

Advising the Ministry of Transport on the legal, commercial and strategic aspects of the procurement process for Light Rail in Auckland, including: development of the response requirements document; preparation and advice on the commercial terms sheet; respondent engagement; and regulatory and legislative requirements.

CRL acting for the Crown (through the Ministry of Transport and Treasury)

Advising the Crown on the structure for the funding, delivery and operation of the CRL project as joint sponsor with Auckland Council, and leading the drafting and negotiating of key documentation.

All New Zealand PPPs

Acting for sponsors, banks or sub-contractors on all PPPs closed or brought to market in New Zealand to date.

Ōtākaro on Christchurch Anchor Projects

Advising the Crown (and then Ōtākaro) on the structuring, procurement and funding of the Anchor Projects for the Christchurch rebuild, including the Convention Centre, Metro Sports Facility, Bus Interchange and Avon River Precinct.

Admitted

  • 1991, New Zealand

Qualifications

  • LLB (Hons), BCom, University of Auckland

Affiliations

  • Officer of the International Bar Association’s (IBA) International Construction Projects Committee
  • Inaugural board member for New Zealand Infrastructure Commission, Te Waihanga

Specialisations

  • Infrastructure
  • Major Projects
  • Public Private Partnerships
  • Construction Contracts
  • Regulatory Compliance

Awards

  • Ranked Band 1 for Construction, Chambers Asia Pacific
  • Ranked as a leading Energy and Natural Resources lawyer, Chambers Asia Pacific & Global
  • Ranked as a Leading Individual – Projects, Resource Management & Environment and Real Estate & Construction, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific
  • Ranked as Highly Regarded – M&A, Energy & Infrastructure and Project Development, IFLR1000
  • Named as an IFLR1000 Women Leader for 2022, the elite cohort of leading female transactional experts
  • Named Best Lawyers 'Lawyer of the Year 2023' for Energy Law
  • Recognised for Construction Law, Energy Law and Natural Resources Law, Best Lawyers
  • Winner – Energy and Natural Resources Lawyer of the Year New Zealand, ILO Client Choice Awards (2015, 2014)