COVID-19: My Vaccine Pass

A friendly reminder that in the interest of keeping our clients, our people and our communities safe from COVID-19, you will be required to present your My Vaccine Pass when visiting our offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown. Ngā mihi nui.

Charlene Sell

LLB (Hons), BCom, Partner

Charlene’s extensive commercial expertise dovetails with important day-to-day issues affecting the businesses she works alongside.  This includes advising and drafting on commercial contracts, dealing with employment matters and assisting clients with protecting and commercialising their intellectual property.
Charlene’s wide understanding of legal issues facing businesses is particularly valuable to SMEs who often lack the benefit of layers of specialised skills within their organisations.  She advises clients at all stages of the business life cycle, from establishment through to exit.
In addition to working with businesses, Charlene offers specialist expertise in charity law. She also frequently supports councils, advising them on operational matters within the local government framework.
Charlene leads the Firm’s Property and Commercial Team.
"I endeavour to obtain simple and practical solutions for my clients.  I take the time to understand my clients' circumstances and objectives so I am better equipped to tailor my advice to meet their specific needs."

Recent Projects

  • Assisting a number of large US-based companies to establish their businesses in New Zealand.

  • Advising Environment Canterbury and Environment Southland on contractual issues, intellectual property, and general commercial law matters.

  • Assisting overseas law firms to provide advice to their clients on New Zealand legal issues, including employment and intellectual property advice.

  • Preparing and advising on supply and distribution agreements for several manufacturers and exporters.

  • Advising clients on corporate structuring matters including preparing shareholder agreements and company constitutions.

  • Advising clients on service agreements and arrangements with contractors and agents.

  • Assisting start-up businesses with corporate structuring matters, terms of trade, employment agreements and general legal compliance issues.

  • Advising clients on brand protection, including trade mark protection, registered designs and copyright advice.

  • Assisting local and international clients to register their trade marks in New Zealand and ensuring they are maintained.

  • Advising clients on changes to consumer protection laws and updating their terms of trade following those changes.

  • Advising clients on changes to employment laws and updating their employment agreements and policies following those changes.

Recent Articles


How to prepare for upcoming changes to sick leave entitlements

The Government’s proposed reform of employees’ sick leave entitlements has now been passed into law. From 24 July 2021, the Holidays Act 2003 will be updated so that an employee’s minimum entitlement to sick leave will be doubled from 5 days to 10 days per year.

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Your business brand – a steal?

Whether you are running a small local business or a large multi-national organisation, your brand will often be your most important asset. A distinctive brand is an important way to target and maintain a connection with your chosen market. By protecting your brand, you can ensure that it remains unique to your business and contributes to strong and consistent brand awareness amongst both your existing customers and your wider target market.

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Upcoming parental leave changes

Employers will need to be aware of the upcoming changes to parental leave which will take effect in mid-2018.

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Legal do's and don'ts when hiring a new employee

In this article, we provide some tips to help you through the recruitment process – from advertising the role, to offering employment to your top candidate.

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Protecting and commercialising your intellectual property

Intellectual property is a significant asset for nearly all businesses so it is important that you consider how best to protect and, in some cases, commercialise it.

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Unsubstantiated representations – Fujitsu first scalp for Commerce Commission

Fujitsu General New Zealand Limited is the first business to be convicted and fined under the unsubstantiated representations provisions in the Fair Trading Act, which came into force in June 2014.

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Does my business really need written terms of trade?

Many of us that purchase products or services online simply tick a box agreeing to the supplier's terms of trade without reading them or giving them a second thought. But those terms of trade can be very important, particularly when a deal goes wrong. Your business should have written terms of trade so you have evidence of what has been agreed with your customer if there is a dispute.

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Contract and Commercial Law Act: what businesses need to know

On 1 September 2017 the new Contract and Commercial Law Act came into force. This Act consolidates 11 contract and commercial statutes into a single piece of legislation.

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Small Business Update

There have been many changes to our laws over the last few years that directly affect New Zealand businesses. In this article, we have brought together key information on the most important changes.

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Consumer Law Reform: Unfair Contract Terms

Arguably the most wide-reaching change following the recent overhaul of New Zealand's consumer laws is the prohibition on unfair contract terms in standard form consumer contracts. These changes come into effect on 17 March 2015. The Commerce Commission has indicated that it will take a proactive approach to enforcing these new rules. It has recently finalised its guidelines outlining its intended approach to enforcement. You can access these guidelines by clicking on this link

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.nz Domain Names: Preferential Registration Expires on 30 March 2015

You can now register domain names in New Zealand without second level domains. This means the '.co' in '' and the '.org' in '' are now optional. If you have a domain name which uses a second level domain such as '.co' or '.org' you should consider reserving the shorter .nz domain name before it is obtained by a competitor or someone else.

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Consumer Law Reform: Unsubstantiated Representations

The inclusion of a new prohibition on businesses making unsubstantiated representations is one of the key amendments to the Fair Trading Act. Businesses are prevented from making representations about their products or services if they do not have reasonable grounds for the representation when it is made, whether or not it later turns out to be true. These changes come into effect on 17 June 2014.

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Consumer Law Reform: Uninvited Direct Sales

Parliament has abolished the Door to Door Sales Act and replaced it with new provisions in the Fair Trading Act covering door to door and telemarketing sales. The new provisions cover uninvited direct sales where a supplier approaches a consumer uninvited in their home or workplace or by phone to try and sell them products or services and an agreement is entered into for those products or services costing at least $100 (or where the price is uncertain). These changes come into effect on 17 June 2014.

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Increased Protections for Consumers: What Businesses Need to Know

Some of the most important changes to New Zealand's consumer laws in recent times were enacted at the end of last year. These changes will affect nearly all businesses in New Zealand. If you are an owner or manager of a business you will need to consider whether your documentation and processes need to be updated to comply with the new laws. While a few of the changes are effective now, the majority of changes do not come into effect until 17 June 2014. There is a longer timeframe before the prohibition on unfair contract terms comes into effect (17 March 2015). This article provides a brief overview of the key changes. We will be circulating a series of articles over the coming months to provide more information on the most significant reforms.

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Minimum Wage Obligations for Salaried Employees

Are you aware that you have an obligation to ensure at least the minimum wage is paid to your salaried employees?

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Protecting Your Brand

One of the biggest assets of any business is its brand. Brand awareness within your target market is one of the key factors determining your business' success. This means it is important you take steps to protect your brand. One way of doing so is to register your trade mark.

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Restraints of Trade in a Competitive Market

There are two words that every employer fears from a key employee, "I'm leaving."  The situation is only made worse when you find out that your key employee is leaving to join a competitor!

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Trusts as Vehicles for Wealth Management

Trusts can be a useful mechanism to manage and distribute wealth.  They can be used in this way both during your lifetime and after you have died.

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International Trade Mark Registrations under the Madrid System

On 10 December 2012, new regulations came into force giving effect to the Madrid Protocol in New Zealand.  This means it is now easier for New Zealand trade mark owners to apply for protection of their trade marks in multiple countries and overseas trade mark owners to apply for protection of their trade marks in New Zealand.  This article discusses the Madrid System, its advantages and disadvantages and other recent changes to our trade marks legislation.

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Competing with Former Employees

As a nation we don't look favourably on people who gain an unfair advantage over their competition.  The New Zealand public were outraged when Belarusian shot putter Nadzeya Ostapchuk was found to have taken performance enhancing drugs at the recent London Olympics.  She was stripped of her gold medal and told to hand it over to New Zealander Valerie Adams.

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The Importance of a Written International Sale of Goods Contract

Exporters may complete numerous successful trades with buyers without the existence of a written contract.  Despite this, there are practical reasons why a written contract can assist the parties both during and after their negotiations.

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International Sale of Goods

If you import or export goods, the chances are you will have been involved in a contract that is subject to the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG for short). The Convention governs thousands of contracts each year but surprisingly many people don’t know about it.

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The Fine Print Can Make or Break a Deal

In most circumstances transactions between exporters and their customers go off without a hitch.  Even if there is no formal written agreement between them or the documentation setting out the details of the transaction is inadequate, most parties will work through any issues to reach an agreeable solution.  Nevertheless, disputes about what the parties actually agreed can sometimes occur.

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Handling Redundancies in Tough Times

Canterbury business owners have received a number of blows over the last couple of years.  The ongoing global financial crisis coupled with the effects of the Christchurch earthquake and subsequent aftershocks have hit many businesses hard.  Some business owners can no longer carry on as they have done in the past and now must consider downsizing their business to keep afloat.  This may result in business owners having to make the tough decision to lay off some of their staff. 

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Requirements for Employment Agreements From 1 July 2011

While written employment agreements have been required since the Employment Relations Act 2000 came into force, not all employers have complied with this obligation. In an effort to ensure greater compliance significant penalties can now be imposed on employers who do not have employment agreements with their employees.

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Significant Changes to Our Employment Laws

A number of important changes to our employment laws came into force on 1 April 2011. These changes will affect employment agreements and employment relations between employers and employees before, during and on termination of an employee's employment.

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Record Keeping and Our Limitation Laws

How will changes to our limitation laws affect you?  Charlene Sell, an Associate with Wynn Williams, discusses the impact of our new limitation laws on your business’s record keeping procedures.

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Business Borrowing: The Impact on Family Trusts

How can business borrowing affect your family trust? Annabel Sheppard, partner, and Charlene Sell,
solicitor, from Wynn Williams, discuss the risks of taking out a business loan secured by trust assets.

Keep reading...


  • NZLS Canterbury-Westland Branch Council

  • Intellectual Property Society of Australia & New Zealand

  • Canterbury Women's Legal Association

  • Institute of Directors

Speaking Engagements

  • Corporate Sessions: Contract terms (2016, 2018)

  • Joint presentation with Deloitte: Impact of proposed employment law changes (2018)

  • Business Bites workshops: Business structuring, contracting, intellectual property, (2016, 2017)

  • ANZ Biz Start Up Series: Corporate structuring and general legal issues to consider for new businesses (2017)

  • Joint presentation with Deloitte: Terms of trade, intellectual property, employment issues and personal asset protection (2016)

  • Civil Contractors of New Zealand workshops: Employment disputes and personal asset protection (2014, 2015, 2016)

  • Conferenz One Stop Update for Accountants in Business: Health and safety update, changes to employment laws, 90 day trial periods, social media issues for employers (2016)

  • Employment Law Sessions: Redundancy & Restructuring, Disciplinary Process, and Personal Grievance (2016 & 2017)

  • Process for buying or selling a practice – presented to members of Medical Assurance Society (April 2016)

  • Presentation to Civil Contractors NZ (Canterbury branch) on asset planning (August 2014)

  • Presentation to members of Export NZ (Canterbury branch) on export documentation (April 2014)
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