A lawyer who had an intimate relationship with a client has been suspended for the maximum period the Lawyers and Conveyancers Disciplinary Tribunal can impose.
The tribunal suspended Craig Ronald Horsley, of Tauranga, from practising as a barrister or solicitor for three years.
Horsley was found guilty in March of misconduct for providing services to a client while he was in a relationship with her.
The tribunal found that his conduct would reasonably be regarded by lawyers of good standing as disgraceful or dishonourable.
It also found that Horsley wilfully or recklessly contravened the requirement that he be independent and free from compromising influences or loyalties when providing services to his client.
Horsley also admitted a charge of misconduct for knowingly making a false statement to the investigating committee.
He had signed a statement saying he had not had a personal relationship with the client when he knew that to be false.
The Law Society's national prosecution manager, Mark Treleaven, said Horsley's acceptance of responsibility and other mitigating factors saved him from being struck off.
"It is totally unacceptable for lawyers to enter into intimate personal relationships with a client where this would compromise the independence of the lawyer," Treleaven said.
"Misleading or providing false information to a Law Society investigation is also viewed extremely seriously."