The Consignors and Commercial Breeders Association (CBA) has developed and adopted a code of conduct that warns its members not to participate in deals involving undisclosed dual agency or the payment of undisclosed commissions while selling horses. Such practices have been among the key issues raised by recent, high-profile lawsuits in the Thoroughbred industry.
Finalized late in 2006, the code of conduct is posted on the organization's Website: www.consignorsandbreeders.com.
"No matter what industry you look into, every trade association has a code of conduct," said Bayne Welker, president of the CBA. "It was only proper that we put a code of our own into effect. It's just another building block of what we're trying to do as an organization. We tried to make it simple and to make it apply to what we do."
According to the code of conduct, a CBA member will:
• Strive at all times to serve the best interests of his, her, or its clients.
• Conduct business with honesty, integrity, and fairness toward clients, other CBA members, and the buying public.
• Answer truthfully and avoid intentionally misleading statements when responding to inquiries from prospective buyers.
• Refuse to pay or accept commissions that are not disclosed to the member's principal and refuse to participate in any undisclosed dual agency or other fraud.
• Comply with all applicable sales company rules of sale and with all applicable state and federal laws.
According to a story about the code of conduct that appears on the CBA Web site, its adoption "is a significant way for consignors and breeders to demonstrate that they are motivated by a sense of social responsibility. The code is designed primarily as an instrument for self discipline, but is also intended for use by legal or administrative bodies as a reference document within the framework of applicable laws."
While the CBA's purpose isn't to serve as a police force for sales, the organization wants its code of ethics to do more than pay lip service to auction business issues, according to Welker. But he declined to discuss what possible actions the organization would take if one of its members would behave inappropriately.
"It will up to our board to make appropriate recommendations," he said, if a member is found to be in "clear violation" of the code.
Since it was formed in 2005, the organization has published a newsletter and educational booklets about veterinary issues related to sale horses. The CBA is part of an initiative spearheaded by Keeneland and Fasig-Tipton to develop a policy regarding the testing for, and the inappropriate use of, anabolic steroids in horses sold at public auction in Kentucky.