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New Zealand High Court finds NZICA in breach of fair trading rules

The High Court of New Zealand has ruled that some of the New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants's (NZICA) advertisements breached the Fair Trading Act 1986 but no damages could be proven and it stopped short of declaring any defamation had occurred because no pecuniary losses were made out.

The facts date back to the period between 2011 and 2013, and NZICA has since then merged with the Institute of Chartered Accountants Australia (ICAA) to form the Trans-Tasmanian body Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand.

The court case was brought by CPA Australia that alleged NZICA had on a number of occasions between 2011 and 2013 "overstepped the appropriate boundaries of rivalry between the designations".

In his judgement, Justice Dobson of the High Court of New Zealand found that NZICA had breached the Fair Trading Act 1986, and that CPA Australia had made out some elements of actionable defamation. However as a corporate plaintiff, it was required to prove pecuniary loss which it had failed to do.

"We commenced these proceedings as a last resort, and only after all attempts to resolve the matter outside these proceedings had been exhausted," CPA Australia CEO Alex Maley commented. "First and foremost we were acting as a matter of principle to defend the integrity of the CPA designation, and of the profession more generally."

He concluded: "We believe Justice Dobson's findings that NZICA defamed CPA Australia and breached provisions of the Fair Trading Act are a vindication of the action we have taken on behalf of our members."

Related story:
"It's not cricket" - legal battle starts between CPA Australia and NZICA

 

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