Add a bookmark to get started

David Johnston


David Johnston is an experienced tax lawyer, with a particular focus on mergers and acquisitions, W&I insurance, restructuring, New Zealand’s treatment of inbound and outbound investment and tax disputes with the Inland Revenue. David also has considerable experience of advising on the tax treatment of funds and employee/management share plans. David is named as a "leading individual" by Legal 500.

David has acted on a variety of transactions, including conducting tax due diligence, providing transactional tax advice, and reviewing and negotiating transaction/legal documentation. David regularly assists clients with their interactions with the Inland Revenue, including making voluntary disclosures, obtaining tax rulings and during tax enquiries. David has appeared in the Taxation Review Authority and the High Court.

David assists a range of clients, from significant multi-nationals to start-up companies. He has broad industry exposure and has provided tax advice to companies in a number of different sectors, including private equity, banking, asset management, venture capital, insurance, agriculture, forestry, retail, pharmaceutical and technology.

Areas of FocusTax
Professional QualificationsBarrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 2002Solicitor of the Senior Courts of England and Wales, 2008


  • Advised Tracksuit on its USD22m Series A Capital Raise.
  • Advised Bank of Queensland on the tax aspects of the sale of its New Zealand loan and asset portfolio to UDC Finance.
  • Advised Wētā FX Limited on the tax aspects of the sale of its digital assets to NYSE listed Unity Software Inc., including advising on the post deal reorganisation.
  • Advised AMP Capital on the tax aspects of the sale of its New Zealand Global Equity and Fixed Income investment management business to Macquarie.
  • Advised Accel-KKR and its portfolio company, Seequent Holdings Ltd in relation to the tax aspects of its sale of Seequent Holdings Ltd to Bentley Systems, Inc.
  • Advising Dairy Farm Partnership in connection with the tax implications of the sale of its New Zealand farms to the New Zealand Rural Land Company.
  • Advising Discovery Inc. in relation to the tax aspects of its purchase of the MediaWorks TV business.
  • Tax advice to McGrathNicol as liquidators of CBL Insurance.
  • Tax due diligence of the Zespri Group in advance of its 2018 share offer.
  • Tax due diligence and advising on the acquisition of Helicopter NZ by PHI Inc.
  • Advising on the tax implications of the debt restructuring of the Fitness First Group worldwide.
  • Advising JRJ Group ion its acquisition of Marex Spectron.
  • Assisting clients with tax disputes, including preparing formal dispute documentation, attending meetings with the Inland Revenue and agreeing settlements.
  • Advising on a wide range of M&A transactions, including conducting tax due diligence, preparing and negotiating the tax aspects of transaction documentation, and attending to post completion matters.
  • Assisting clients with the tax aspects of liquidations and restructurings.
  • Assisting clients with drafting and implementing employee share schemes and employee share option plans (ESOPs), including confirming the tax treatment.
  • Victoria University of Wellington, LLB
  • Victoria University of Wellington, LLM
  • Victoria University of Wellington, BSc

Memberships And Affiliations

  • Barrister and Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand, 2002
  • Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, 2008
  • Member of the Law Society Tax Committee
  • Member of the Financial Services Council Tax Committee
  • David has presented at the New Zealand Law Society Tax Conference, the Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) annual tax conference, the International Fiscal Association (New Zealand Branch), the International Fiscal Association Australian Tax Conference and the ITR Asia Pacific Tax Conference