Clare O'Shea talks tackling novel leasing queries in COVID-19 and the Commercial Bay project
Property law has long been an area of focus for Anderson Lloyd partner Clare O’Shea, who kicked off her legal career with a boutique property/commercial firm.
“I like the transactional side of property law and that there is a tangible aspect to it in that you can actually see the property that is being bought/sold or the premises being leased,” she explains. “It's also an area of law where there's (normally) not a winner and a loser. If all things go well, everyone at the end of a property transaction should be happy!”
O’Shea’s long career has seen her going places – she spent some time in Tokyo as a foreign legal associate at a leading Japanese firm, and was based out of Melbourne for more than seven years. She previously worked with an Australian Big Six firm, as well as with a top Auckland-based firm on her return to New Zealand.
She has gained a wealth of experience in matters involving retail, commercial, office, industrial and residential property. She has handled sales and acquisitions, development agreements, mixed use and large-scale developments, as well as subdivision-related issues such as unit titles and staged subdivisions.
However, an area of property law that O’Shea has become particularly passionate about is leasing – a field she focused on during her time in Australia and now in New Zealand.
“I really enjoy retail leasing. It's great to be part of something that you get to enjoy on a personal level after the legal part is finished (i.e., shopping, eating, drinking, etc.),” she shares.
O’Shea received the opportunity to flex her retail leasing skills when, in her previous role, she became part of the team that worked on the Commercial Bay project. The centre is Auckland's newest shopping precinct and houses some of the best local and international fashion, lifestyle and beauty brands.
“It was such an exciting project to be involved in given its significance in the Auckland CBD landscape,” she says. “There were many challenges to be faced as the centre was just about to open as the first COVID-19 lockdown hit, but working with the team and seeing the hard work and dedication that goes into a project like this was great.”
The Commercial Bay project was not the only matter impacted by the pandemic, as O’Shea found herself facing “a raft of legal queries from clients that I had never had to turn my mind to before.”
With regard to leasing, she had to navigate issues such as what constituted a “fair” abatement of rental during a lockdown, as well as what clients could and couldn’t do during certain alert levels.
“Sometimes there was never a black and white answer to give to clients, so often my role was to guide them through the best way possible,” O’Shea explains.
The COVID-19 pandemic has amped up the rate of evolution of many aspects of property law, she notes.
“We saw temporary changes to legislation being implemented during COVID-19 so it will be interesting to see where all this lands,” O’Shea says.