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External legal services

Part of: Professional services All-of-Government

An All-of-Government panel of over 50 providers offering external legal services in nine areas of law.

Key details


Current View dates



Lead agency

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Contract updates

This panel is currently closed for new providers to join.

What's covered

The contract can be used by agencies for specialist capability or additional capacity for in-house government legal teams. It can also be used to outsource legal functions of small agencies over entire areas of law or for particular programmes of work and project teams.

The contract covers all external legal services in the following areas of law:

  • banking and finance
  • corporate and commercial
  • employment
  • environmental and resource management
  • health and safety
  • litigation
  • property and construction
  • public
  • other (like health/medical, immigration, tikanga Māori and any area not contained in another area of law).

The Areas of law page has more detail about what each area covers.

Areas of Law

What’s not covered

The contract does not cover:

  • services that are core Crown legal matters (other than those the Solicitor-General may direct to be exempt from the Cabinet Directions)
  • services which the Attorney-General may direct to be treated as a core Crown legal matter in accordance with the Cabinet Directions
  • any public prosecution, as defined in section 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011
  • services provided by Barristers Sole (unless subcontracted by a panel provider to deliver services under a legal services order) and King’s Counsel.

Core Crown legal matters are described in the Cabinet Directions for the conduct of Crown Legal Business 2016. They include:

  • legal representation in any litigation to which the government is a party (with certain exclusions)
  • legal advice to the Crown relating to:
    • protection of Crown revenue
    • enforcement of the criminal law
    • the exercise or scope of constitutional powers or duties of the Crown including in relation the Treaty of Waitangi or the Crown/Māori relationship, New Zealand’s international obligations and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
    • powers or duties of Law Officers of New Zealand
    • the lawfulness of actual or proposed exercise of a public power, duty or function.

The Cabinet Directions do not apply to:

  • the Parliamentary Counsel Office
  • the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives
  • the Parliamentary Service
  • Crown entities
  • State-owned enterprises
  • offices of Parliament, bodies listed in Schedules 4, 4A and 5 of the Public Finance Act 1989, local authorities, and other bodies corporate that exist to perform public functions or that are owned by the Crown or a public entity.

Cabinet directions for the conduct of Crown Legal Business 2016

If you're not sure if your requirement is a core Crown legal matter, contact the Crown Law Office for advice.

Contact the Crown Law office

How it works

There are over 50 providers on the panel from smaller to larger providers. They offer external legal services under one or more areas of law. You can use any provider on the panel for any or all of the areas (or sub-areas) of law within the scope of this contract. To use this contract, you first have to join. There’s more information on the joining process in the section below:

Join this contract

Once you’ve joined, you’ll need to determine your requirements.

Then, you can directly source a provider from the panel, or shortlist providers before selection.

Once you’ve chosen a provider, use a Legal Services Order (LSO) to record the terms agreed. The LSO template is in the Contract documents section top right of this page.

New Zealand Government Procurement (NZGP) will ask agencies to complete provider performance surveys during the term of the external legal services contract.

More detail on the selection process, pricing approach, and what to include in an LSO is on the Using the external legal services contract page.

Using the external legal services contract

Features and benefits

This contract offers:

  • Access to a comprehensive range of quality providers throughout New Zealand.
  • Competitive rates and hourly rate comparisons, resulting in material savings compared to market rates.
  • Regular opportunities for new providers to join the panel (every 2 years).
  • Continuous performance management and improved provider performance data, based on agency responses to regular provider performance surveys. This data will help inform agencies’ selection of providers when direct sourcing.
  • Consolidated reporting on external legal services spend.

Under this contract, providers offer a range of value-added services and are required to deliver particular broader outcomes.

Value-add services

Value-add services are offered free of charge by some panel providers to participating agencies. Agencies may request a provider to supply some or all of the value-add services they offer.

Value-add services may include:

  • dedicated legal upskilling opportunities for the participating agency (like webinars, seminars, workshops, other learning opportunities)
  • access to meeting and board rooms (including associated technology)
  • access to the provider’s basic templates
  • telephone hotline
  • email hotline.

Details of the value-add services each provider offers are on available on the Online Panel Directory (OPD).

The provider may refuse to provide value-add services where they are not currently providing external legal services to the participating agency and any of the following also apply:

  • the agency has not engaged the provider in the 24-month period prior to the date of the request
  • the value of the services provided to the agency during the 12-month period prior to the date of the request is less than $10,000
  • the provider is unable to provide the value-add services requested within the agency’s requested timeframe.

Broader outcomes

We encourage agencies to consider the following four broader outcomes initiatives when making secondary procurement decisions . Providers should be:

  • Taking steps to support greater access to justice and other social outcomes (which may include a voluntary pro bono legal services target of 25 hours per lawyer per year).
  • Taking steps to actively increase Māori and Pasifika representation and participation in their organisation and the legal profession.
  • Providing safe working environments for all personnel involved in the work, by implementing transparent overtime and/or time off in lieu policies.
  • Promoting safe, equitable, diverse and inclusive workplaces and gender equity within the legal profession (for example, by actively supporting the development, advancement and retention of personnel who identify as women).

Agencies may agree other broader outcomes with a provider and record them in a legal services order.

Professional services broader outcomes

Savings and costs


Agencies who participate in the external legal services contract don't need to go through a full procurement process of their own, which saves time, effort and cost.

The rates offered by the providers are more competitive than market rates.

Any rates increases during the term of the contract are tied to any increase to the Labour Cost Index. Providers may request rates increases only once each two-year term.


Most AoG contracts include an administration fee. This fee is a simple, effective and transparent way of recovering the cost of developing, sourcing, implementing and managing AoG contracts.

For the external legal service contract, the administration fee is 1.5% of the total charges invoiced by a provider (excluding GST and expenses).

Providers collect the administration fee from agencies via provider invoices and then pass the collected fee on to MBIE - agencies don't need to make any payments direct to MBIE.

Joining this contract

To purchase external legal services using this contract, your agency or school first needs to join.

If this is the first AoG contract your organisation is joining, you’ll need to:

  • check if you’re eligible to join
  • sign a non-disclosure agreement
  • create a RealMe login (to access the joining documents below).

Find more detail on these three steps at Joining AoG contracts.

Joining AoG contracts

Once you have completed this process, or if you’re already using another AoG contract, the next step is to read:

  • the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the external legal services contract
  • the Master external legal services agreement (MSA). This details the rights and obligations of all parties in the contract. Your organisation needs to be aware of terms relevant to their procurement and use of the services.

If your agency agrees to the terms of the MoU, sign and submit the online joining form. The MoU and joining form are in the Joining documents section below. You need an agency login to access it.

Once we receive your joining form, we’ll be in touch to confirm that your agency or school is participating in the contract.

You can then begin purchasing external legal services using this contract.

Joining documents

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Commercially sensitive content

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​​Roles and responsibilities

Each participant in this contract has responsibilities that they must meet as part of that contract.

Roles and responsibilities

Dates and renewal details

Start date:
Current term end date:
Contract Terms:
Two years + two rights of renewal of up to two years each
Renewals left: two