20 September 2016


Vito Zepinic, whose career raises questions about vetting, certification and identity crime, has featured in previous posts. He's in the news - and in court - again.

The SMH, in reporting on Zepinic v Chateau Constructions (Aust) Limited [2016] NSWSC 1254, comments
Despite having no medical or psychiatric qualifications, Zepinic worked as a psychiatrist at Toowoomba Hospital for almost two years from April 2000 to March 2002 before he was unmasked.
After he was deregistered by Queensland authorities, he moved to the inner western Sydney suburb of Burwood where he once again passed himself off as a psychiatrist. In 2008 he was convicted in the Burwood Local Court on six counts of falsely describing himself as a psychiatrist. He was released on a good behaviour bond.
Undeterred, Zepinic moved to London and in October 2009 he once again falsely claimed to be a psychiatrist, landing a prestigious position as a senior lecturer in psychiatry at Queen Mary, University of London (QMUL). During his job application, QMUL had asked Zepinic if he had any criminal convictions. He lied about his convictions in Australia.
Five months later, Zepinic's past caught up with him but once again he lied to hospital authorities claiming he had documents that proved he had won the case against him in Australia. No such documents existed. In 2013 he was convicted of three counts of fraud in London over his QMUL position, but again escaped a jail term.
The battle over his renovations on his Turramurra Avenue home started in December 2006 when Zepinic's $1.1 million makeover was almost complete. But Zepinic refused to pay the builders the last $223,000. Chateau took him to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal, where Zepinic cross-claimed, saying the building work was defective. He was unsuccessful.
After nine further unsuccessful court actions, in 2014 the NSW Supreme court ordered that Zepinic's house be sold and that Chateau was entitled to collect more than $1 million from the proceeds of the sale, having incurred almost $700,000 in legal costs on top of its original claim. Since then Chateau has incurred further legal expenses fighting Zepinic, who having been through seven lawyers, is currently representing himself.
The Court is unimpressed, stating
This proceeding is the latest in a farrago of unnecessary and wasteful litigation that derives from Dr Zepinic’s dissatisfaction with the adverse result that he achieved in the CTTT.
Following the CTTT decision, Dr Zepinic initiated the following unsuccessful appeals:
(a) District Court of New South Wales proceeding 2009/335054, being an appeal against the decision of the CTTT (the District Court Appeal Proceeding);
(b) Court of Appeal proceeding 2010/45208, being an application for leave to appeal against the decision in the District Court proceedings (the 2010 Court of Appeal Proceeding).
Following the commencement by Chateau of proceeding 2009/290598 in this court to enforce its charge over the property, and to obtain an order for the appointment of a trustee for sale, Dr Zepinic initiated three separate appeals to the Court of Appeal and a special leave application to the High Court of Australia. They were:
(a) Court of Appeal proceeding 2013/302149 in respect of orders in the charge proceeding (the 2013 Court of Appeal Proceeding);
(b) Court of Appeal proceeding 2014/130563 in respect of orders in the charge proceeding (the 2014 Court of Appeal Proceeding);
(c) Court of Appeal proceeding 2015/326487 in respect of orders in the charge proceeding (the 2015 Court of Appeal Proceeding);
(d) Application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia No S86/2016 in respect of orders in the 2013 Court of Appeal Proceeding (the 2016 Special Leave Application).
In addition, Dr Zepenic initiated the following proceedings relating to his original allegations that had been ventilated and dismissed in the CTTT, namely that there were defects in the building work carried out by Chateau:
(a) Supreme Court proceeding 2013/132492 (the 2013 Supreme Court Proceeding);
(b) Court of Appeal proceeding 2013/345739 (the Second 2013 Court of Appeal Proceeding);
(c) Court of Appeal proceeding 2014/130569 (the Second 2014 Court of Appeal Proceeding);
(d) Application for special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia No S230/2015 (the 2015 Special Leave Application).
Dr Zepenic has failed at every turn. Every one of his actions has been determined against him. Eventually, after numerous appearances before other judges of this court, he came before me on 5 September 2016. On that date, I made orders and gave short reasons finally disposing of Chateau’s proceeding number 2009/290598. I also made orders on that date finally disposing of this proceeding. These are the reasons for those orders. ...
I have no hesitation in concluding that the issues that Dr Zepinic seeks to raise by his statement of claim in this proceeding not only fail to raise an arguable issue, but that they represent an indulgent, wasteful and repetitive exercise in going over old ground. The contention that Nina was the true owner of the property may be new but as I have said, it cannot avail Dr Zepinic . It has been superseded by subsequent events. And he only has himself to blame. But there was never anything in it, in any event.
Dr Zepinic appears to have out-distanced, and probably exhausted, all of his legal advisors. At various times, he has had legal representation including from LAC Lawyers, (January 2007 to March 2007); Schreuder Partners Compensation Lawyers, (March 2007 to October 2007); Gray and; Perkins Lawyers, (December 2007 to 18 September 2008); Makinson and d'Apice Lawyers, (December 2008 to February 2009); Macquarie Lawyers, (5 March 2009 to 11 September 2009); Hancock Alldis and Roskov Lawyers and Notaries, (14 September 2009 to 28 September 2009 and from 7 October 2009 to November 2009) and Stacks Goudkamp Lawyers, (8-11 October 2013). This proceeding, in which he is representing and advising himself, appears to be a last desperate throw of the dice. But it is pointless and doomed to fail.
The costs incurred by Chateau in this litigation have been horrifying. All because Dr Zepinic has not been prepared to accept the initial decision of the CTTT. Chateau’s assessed costs in the CTTT proceedings and the subsequent assessment process were in excess of $417,000. Its costs in all of the other failed litigation initiated by Dr Zepinic must also be extensive.
Subject to giving Dr Zepinic an opportunity to be heard, I will entertain appropriate applications by Chateau for an indemnity costs order and an order pursuant to the Vexatious Proceedings Act 2008 (NSW). It is pertinent to observe that Dr Zepinic has already recently been warned by the Court of Appeal.
Zepinic appears to have fared better than Dusan Milosevic.