John Brown


A first class lawyer with a wealth of experience in matters relating to land, John combines a formidable knowledge of the law with strong sense of commercial pragmatism. John is highly sought after by clients for his exceptional problem-solving abilities and his outcomes-focussed approach. He is a “go to” expert in all matters relating to real property.
Before founding Brown Partners with his brother Gerard in 2008, John was a partner for a combined period of 15 years in both the commercial property team of a prominent Auckland law firm as well as in another boutique law firm of which he was one of the founding partners. Earlier in his career, John gained cutting-edge international experience working for “Magic Circle” English law firm Freshfields in London.

A highly skilled commercial lawyer, John’s core area of expertise is in transactions relating to real property. A key advisor to sophisticated developers and project managers such as Darby Partners and major corporates, John is an expert in the acquisition, development and disposition of land and complex land-based transactions. 

John’s considerable transactional experience includes:
  • advising (over a period of many years) on all acquisitions, disposals, development and property management and administration for NZX and ASX listed Trans Tasman Properties which entity’s property portfolio included commercial, industrial and retail properties valued in excess of $500 million;
  • acting on greenfield development projects for a mix of hotel, commercial and industrial uses;
  • advising the purchaser on the acquisition from Fletchers of a portfolio of commercial and industrial property in Auckland valued in excess of $60 million;
  • advising a private New Zealand investment group on a complex project comprising development of a new international standard golf course for Peninsula Golf Club, including providing advice on multiple development and related contracts enabling subdivision and residential development of former golf course land at Hibiscus Coast, Auckland;
  • developing a unique investment vehicle for private New Zealand investors acquiring and administering underlying property assets leased to telecommunications companies, and acting on the acquisition of sites to build a portfolio of these property assets;
  • acting for private investors acquiring and administering substantial portfolios of freehold interests in land subject to perpetual lease interests;
  • advising the New Zealand vendors of a $100 million commercial property portfolio to Australian purchasers;
  • advising an internationally recognised and iconic New Zealand winery from its inception, providing advice on contractual, land acquisition, foreign investment, corporate and other matters;
  • acting for Australasian investment bank Castle Partners on investments in New Zealand land projects and securities;
  • advising leading New Zealand project developer and manager Darby Partners and related investment partnerships on prestigious property development and resort projects; 
  • advising on issues arising under the Overseas Investment Act and associated regulations, including preparing applications to the Overseas Investment Office for consent to the acquisition of sensitive land and significant business assets for clients including Craggy Range Vineyards and the Rothschild family; and
  • advising entities including Living Earth, Parachute Arts Trust, Desert Road Films, Manukau Golf Club, and the holders of various interests in developments such as Jacks Point, Queenstown and Clearwater, Christchurch on a broad range of land-related issues.

John is Chairperson of the AUSA Property Trust, the property investment arm of the Auckland University Students Association.