Conflicts of Interest and Registered Veterinary Practitioners

Updated: 1 August 2022
Issued: March 2018

Racing Victoria reminds veterinary practitioners of their obligation not to allow any real or perceived conflict of interest to be associated with their professional activities.

A conflict-of-interest issue arises if there exists:

(a) a conflict between one person's own interests and that of another person or body (including Racing Victoria);

(b) a conflict between a person’s differing obligations to two or more other people;

(c) the appearance of such a conflict.

Conflict of interest issues are particularly relevant to veterinary activities associated with certification, accreditation, and the provision of an expert opinion, including acting as an expert witness in legal proceedings.

From the RV Conflict of Interest Policy:

Conflict of Interest refers to situations where an employee has private interests that could improperly influence, or be seen to influence, their decisions or actions in the performance of their duties. Conflicts may be actual, potential or perceived, or represent a conflict of duty.

A conflict of interest might arise in situations where a veterinary practitioner’s business or personal interests, relationships or connections may conflict with their obligation to provide dispassionate, independent professional service.

A person with a ‘connection’ to the veterinary practitioner includes, but is not limited to, anyone who is:

a family member (including an in-law) of the veterinary practitioner

a person who performs work (paid or unpaid) for the veterinary practitioner.


A conflict-of-interest may arise in the course of providing veterinary services or advice, if, for example, a veterinary practitioner:

(a) has any financial or pecuniary interest in the horse(s) involved;


(b) has a relationship with a client, vendor or purchaser involved;
(c) has a business or social interest with any party;
(d) has been under pressure or offered an inducement in relation to the service;
(e) holds an elected or executive office within an organisation, which has powers under legislation to make decisions about horses, instigate prosecutions, or has some other interest in the horses or services in question; or
(f) in the event of an unexplained / unexpected death of a horse while under the care of a veterinary practitioner, an independent veterinary practitioner should carry out the necropsy to prevent potential conflict of interest, it is important that veterinarians are constantly vigilant in recognising and avoiding situations where a conflict of interest might arise.

Specific examples of unacceptable conflicts of interest for veterinary practitioners interacting with Racing Victoria include (but are not limited to):

i. providing a veterinary certificate for a horse in which the veterinary practitioner has any ownership of the horse
ii. providing a veterinary certificate for a horse where a close relative has any ownership of the horse
iii. providing a veterinary certificate for a horse where the veterinary practitioner is the trainer of the horse
iv. providing a veterinary certificate where a relative or partner of the veterinary practitioner is the trainer of the horse
v. providing a veterinary certificate where the veterinary practitioner is the employee of a veterinary practice where another member of the veterinary practice has any ownership of the horse
vi. providing a veterinary certificate where the veterinary practitioner is the employer of a veterinary practitioner who has any ownership of the horse
vii. providing a veterinary certificate to any employee of the veterinary practitioner where the employee has any ownership of the horse or trains the horse
viii. providing a veterinary certificate where there has been an inducement to provide the certificate. An inducement includes any reward (whether received or not) or a threat of negative consequences for the veterinary practitioner related to wording of the veterinary certificate.

Managing a conflict of interest

When faced with a potential conflict of interest situation, veterinary practitioners must:

(a) take all reasonable steps to avoid that conflict; and


(b) promptly declare any apparent, actual or potential conflict of interest to Racing Victoria.

Disclosure enables Racing Victoria to choose whether to continue with the service or to engage another veterinary practitioner.

Where there is any real or perceived conflict of interest, an independent veterinary practitioner should be engaged to perform any professional veterinary services.

Providing certificates for horses where there is a close personal relationship between the veterinary practitioner (as outlined above) and the owner or manager is a common area of concern for RV.


Racing Victoria will not accept any certification or reports from a veterinarian where there is a real or perceived conflict of interest as judged by Racing Victoria.

The Veterinary Practitioners Registration Board of Victoria provides advice to registered veterinarians about conflicts of interest in its Guideline 11 (available at:

If you have any queries, please contact Dr Grace Forbes (0406 750 390) or


VPRBV Guideline 11 - Managing conflicts of interest

Professional conduct under this guideline is demonstrated by the following:

11.1 A veterinary practitioner takes reasonable steps to avoid conflicts of interest. Where a conflict of interest cannot be avoided, a veterinary practitioner should declare the conflict to the affected parties and their intended approach to managing the conflict so as to minimise any potentially adverse impact.

11.2 A veterinary practitioner does not seek or accept inducements that may influence their treatment or management decisions away from best practice.

11.3 A veterinary practitioner considers what is in the best interest of an animal when providing treatment or advice on the management of the animal’s wellbeing or when referring the animal and owner to another veterinary practitioner.

Context to Guideline 11: Managing conflicts of interest

A conflict of interest may arise when a veterinary practitioner has financial, professional or private interests or relationships with third parties that may affect, or have the appearance of affecting, the decisions they make about the care and/or treatment of an animal.

To manage a conflict of interest, a veterinary practitioner identifies what, if any, actual or perceived conflict of interest exists and then, through careful consideration, determines a course of action that ensures the conflict does not have an unreasonable influence on their professional judgement.

Conflicts of interest are relevant to the provision of veterinary services associated with certification, accreditation and the provision of an expert opinion. Disclosing an actual or perceived conflict of interest enables the veterinary practitioner, in consultation with an owner, to choose the course of action that limits its influence, including the potential termination of the Veterinary - Owner - Animal relationship.

Racing Victoria’s Conflict of Interest Policy is available at: Conflicts of Interest Policy