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Browse the 1966 Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Graphic: An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand 1966.


This information was published in 1966 in An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, edited by A. H. McLintock. It has not been corrected and will not be updated.

Up-to-date information can be found elsewhere in Te Ara.




A common law lien is a right to retain possession of a chattel as security for a debt owed in respect of that chattel. For example, an unpaid seller may retain the goods although they have become the buyer's property. A workman who has done work on an article may retain it until his debt is paid. If he is unpaid for two months the workman has a statutory right to sell the article by auction after giving notice.

Another type of lien is created by the Wages Protection and Contractors Liens Act of 1939. The principle of the Act is that a contractor, subcontractor, or worker doing work on land or goods who has a claim against his employer may require the amount of his claim to be withheld by a superior contractor or head employer out of the money due to the immediate employer under the contract. Where land is involved and an action is commenced to enforce the lien it may be registered as a charge against the land. This procedure gives a remedy where the head contractor claims against the owner. Whether or not notice of a lien has been given, portion of the contract price must be withheld for 31 days after a contract is completed.

Next Part: Sale of Goods