What Is An Engagement Letter?

What Is An Engagement Letter?

An engagement letter is a written document that sets out the business relationship between a client and a company. Engagement letters serve as an agreement between two parties on the terms of their engagement. Engagement letters are used when a business is providing services to clients or when a business wants to establish the terms and expectations of the relationship prior to commencing. 

Engagement letters are needed in various professional fields and industries to formalise the client service provider relationship. Examples of when engagement letters are needed include legal services, consultative services, real estate transactions and insurance policies. This article will explore the key elements of engagement letters alongside mistakes to avoid when drafting them.

Key Components of an Engagement Letter

As transparency and clarity are central to engagement letters, it is very important for businesses to ensure their engagement letters are structured and adhere to key components.

Below are some key elements to consider when constructing an engagement letter.


All engagement letters should include the purpose of the document. The purpose of engagement letters are likely to outline the basis of why the engagement letter has been created and will also outline the service being offered.

Period of Engagement

Engagement letters will also establish the duration and time frame the business’s services will last with the client. The period of engagement within the document ensures that both parties are aware of when the engagement ends.

Professional Fees

The cost of the service the business is providing to the customer will also be stated within the engagement letter. Ensuring the professional fees are defined within the engagement letter promotes clarity for both parties.


Engagement letters often include information associated with financial data, proprietary information and personal matters. Confidentiality is central to engagement letters. safeguarding information from third parties is often a requirement for businesses when providing services to clients.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Lack of Specificity

Engagement letters that are not specific will lead to ambiguities and create confusion amongst both parties involved. It is vital that engagement letters are direct and clear to minimise errors and confusion. 

Neglecting to Define Terms

Engagement letters will often include words that clients are unfamiliar with. Legal terminology will often be required to mention in engagement letters. 

Overlooking Regulatory Compliance

Engagement letters are legal documents and regulated by laws. The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 regulates consumer protection and fair trading. This means any unfair terms within an engagement letter is likely to be illegal under the Act. The Privacy Act 1988 also governs aspects of confidentiality within legal documents. Hence, businesses should ensure that their engagement letters are legally compliant.

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In conclusion, an engagement letter serves as a pivotal document in formalizing the business relationship between a client and a company, outlining the terms and expectations of their engagement. It provides transparency and clarity, essential for various professional fields and industries, including legal services, consultative services, real estate transactions, and insurance policies. Key components such as the purpose, duration of engagement, professional fees, and confidentiality are paramount for structuring effective engagement letters. Moreover, businesses must avoid common mistakes like lack of specificity, neglecting to define terms, and overlooking regulatory compliance to ensure legal compliance and facilitate successful client engagements.


What should an engagement letter include?

An engagement letter should outline the purpose, duration of the engagement, professional fees, and confidentiality provisions to establish clear terms and expectations between the client and the company.

Why is specificity important in engagement letters?

Specificity reduces ambiguities, minimising confusion between parties and ensuring that both the client and the company understand their respective obligations and responsibilities.

How can businesses ensure compliance with regulatory requirements in engagement letters?

Businesses should review applicable laws such as the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 and the Privacy Act 1988 to ensure engagement letters adhere to legal standards, thereby avoiding potential legal issues and ensuring regulatory compliance.

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