New Australian Sales Thoroughbred Code of Conduct / National / 20 Jul, 2011

A new Australian Sales Thoroughbred Code of Conduct has been released today by the industry’s 8 major participants in order to bring greater transparency and accountability to agents acting on behalf of buyers.

In a first, the code has been signed by The Australian Racing Board, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, Magic Millions, William Inglis and Son Ltd., Federation of Bloodstock Agents Australia, Australian Trainers Association, NSW Trainers Association and Equine Veterinarians Australia. The code is the strongest in the world alongside the United States’ code and introduces a Complaints Advisory Panel to which an aggrieved party can seek a resolution without having to resort to expensive and time consuming legal action.

Speaking on behalf of the signatory parties, Thoroughbred Breeders Australia CEO Peter McGauran said that the reforms would strengthen existing safeguards and generate greater confidence in the sales system.

“Complaints against agents – defined as any person representing or advising a buyer or seller at a sale – are infrequent to the point of being rare but all of us have a vital interest in maintaining confidence in the sales system and answering any criticisms however ill-informed or unjustified. We have jointly agreed on a new Code of Conduct not because of any identifiable problems, but because we want to meet and even exceed the highest standards possible expected of us by buyers and the general community,” Mr. McGauran said.

The major features of the new code are:

> No agent may act in an unethical, dishonest or disreputable manner and must act at all times in the interests of their client to the exclusion of all other interests including their own.

> An agent must obtain from their client a written form accurately recording the terms of engagement

> An agent must disclose to their client any payment or commission they receive from any other person

> An agent must not offer any secret commission or payment to another agent which is not disclosed to the prospective buyer or that is intended to induce an agent to act otherwise than in the best interests of their client

> An agent must not make any false or misleading statement nor engage in any conduct intended to falsely inflate the price of bloodstock in respect of which they are acting

> An agent must not purchase or acquire any interest in bloodstock in respect of which they are acting as an agent for a seller

> A seller who has an ownership interest in bloodstock being offered for sale must not make any statement concerning the bloodstock which is false or misleading

> A seller who has an ownership interest in bloodstock being offered for sale must accurately disclose the details of such ownership to the company conducting the sale

> A seller must consent to those details being provided on a confidential basis to registered buyers who have a bona fide interest in purchasing the horse.

“The code imposes a number of specific obligations on agents in regard to disclosure as well as prohibiting payment of inducements or secret commissions. Importantly, however, the code incorporates sweeping provisions under which agents are held to the highest ethical and professional standards of their professions. We are confident that every potential wrongdoing is covered by the code which has been two years in the drafting,” Mr McGauran said.

Mr McGauran said that a Complaints Advisory Panel would consider any allegation that an agent had breached the code with the aim of settling the dispute without recourse to legal action.

“The Panel’s responsibility is to use its best endeavours to conciliate and mediate any dispute taking into account written submissions and a conference with the complainant and respondent. If no resolution is possible, then the complainant will be advised of their legal rights and, if necessary, the conduct of the agent referred to their relevant professional association for action under their disciplinary rules. Licensed persons will be dealt with under the rules of racing.”

CLICK HERE to download a copy of the Australian Sales Thoroughbred Code of Conduct