KPMG Legal in New Zealand is to rebrand as Kensington Swan from 1 April 2003. The decision to return to its former name after nearly three years as KPMG Legal has been driven by increased regulatory focus on auditor independence and changing attitudes to corporate governance issues by international and domestic clients.
The legal firm’s CEO, Graham Shaw says that although KPMG Legal in New Zealand has remained an independent law firm, the adoption of the KPMG brand in its name has led to some confusion as to its independence.
“Over the past few years, we have developed a close working relationship with KPMG. The framework for that relationship was shaped at a time when multi-disciplinary partnerships were becoming increasingly common internationally. We expected the same thing to happen here with planned changes to the Law Practitioners Act allowing accountants and lawyers to be in partnership.
“However, the global and local landscape and our clients’ needs and expectations changed.”
Graham Shaw explained that the firms’ response was in the context of the developing international regulatory environment and changing attitudes in the international and local markets to issues of auditor independence and corporate governance.
“Both we and KPMG recognise that the framework we have been working in New Zealand for the past few years may no longer be appropriate to some of our clients needs or to the needs of our respective professional firms.”
“Apart from the branding change it will be pretty much business as usual with no staff changes. The sharing of some support services will however come to an end.”
In Auckland, KPMG and Kensington Swan will still be co-locating in a new building at the Viaduct Basin, due to be completed in January 2004.
Kensington Swan has a total of 137 lawyers, working from offices in Auckland and Wellington. Its specialist services include litigation and dispute resolution, property and construction, financial services, employment law, public law, information technology, intellectual property and corporate and commercial law.