Following an investigation and a breach opinion by the Health and Disability Commissioner, a woman brought proceedings against her former counsellor alleging that he breached Rights 2, 4(2) and 4(4) of the Code by initiating and continuing a sexual relationship while he was counselling her.
The parties were in conflict over the essential facts; including when the counselling relationship ended, and when the sexual relationship begun. The Tribunal preferred the evidence of the defendant, finding that at the time the sexual relationship began the counselling relationship had been at an end for approximately 18-24 months. The Tribunal concluded that there was no exploitation as any imbalance in power had dissipated and could not be expected to influence the plaintiff's personal decision-making, and that the defendant had not breached any professional or ethical standards. The Tribunal noted that this was a different conclusion to that of the Health and Disability Commissioner, but the statute required it to undertake a fresh (de novo) hearing and it had reached its conclusion "after an oral hearing (cf "on the papers") at which the defendant has been represented by counsel and given an opportunity not only to challenge the plaintiff by way of cross-examination but also to present himself for examination and to call two other witnesses". ABC v XYZ  NZHRRT 25