27 Mar 2019
The Chiropractic Board of Australia has welcomed the decision of the District Court of South Australia to uphold a tribunal’s decision to cancel the registration of former chiropractor, Mr Robert Marin.
Chiropractic Board of Australia (the Board) Chair Dr Wayne Minter welcomed the court outcome as important in drawing a line in the sand for chiropractors who take advantage of their patients.
‘Most chiropractors do the right thing and support patients in the way they deserve to be supported. However, there are some practitioners who flout the law. Our regulatory requirements are clear. We will investigate and take action on any practitioner who exploits patients. This outcome shows the sanction will be hefty and can end a career.’
In June 2017, following action brought by the Chiropractic Board of Australia, the South Australian Health Practitioner’s Tribunal (the tribunal) found that Mr Marin had demonstrated serious commercially predatory behaviour by providing highly questionable services (both chiropractic and weight loss) to 28 patients (including 14 adults and 14 children under the age of 12), over a period of eight years.
The tribunal also found he had deliberately enabled an ongoing breach of privacy to occur with the inappropriate use of CCTV and had been dishonest with the Board who had led an investigation with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) into his conduct.
According to the tribunal, Mr Marin had shown no insight at all and had repeatedly breached an undertaking he’d given to the Board, as well as conditions that the Board had previously imposed on his registration.
At the time the tribunal’s sanctions reprimanded Mr Marin, cancelled his registration as a chiropractor and permanently disqualified him from reapplying for registration. They also imposed a fine of $20,000 (in addition to paying the Board’s costs) and prohibited him from providing any health services, including weight loss, dietary advice or massage services, whether remunerated or not, that use his skills and knowledge gained as a chiropractor.
Mr Marin appealed the tribunal’s decision, claiming the tribunal had wrongly decided a legal issue and that he had been denied procedural fairness.
On 19 February 2019, the District Court of South Australia upheld the findings of the tribunal that Mr Robert Marin’s conduct was substantially below the standard expected of a registered chiropractor and amounted to professional misconduct. On 22 March 2019 the court disqualified Mr Marin from applying for registration for a period of 10 years.
The court did vary the tribunal’s original decision to permanently disqualify Mr Marin by setting a specific period of time he will be prevented from reapplying for registration (which accords with the tribunal’s powers under the National Law1). The court decided on a period of 10 years, reflecting the seriousness of Mr Marin’s misconduct.
His Honour emphasised that Mr Marin will not automatically be registered at the end of the 10-year period and will have to satisfy the Board that he is a fit and proper person to be registered in the event he applies for registration.
His Honour, Auxiliary Judge Clayton, noted that based on what was put before the court Mr Marin is not presently fit to practise and is unlikely to become fit to practise in the future. Further, His Honour found that Mr Marin had shown no contrition and given no indication he would not be likely to repeat his misconduct again.
Patients and members of the public with concerns about the care they receive from their registered health practitioner can call AHPRA on 1300 419 495.
1Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law).