Rules of Membership

(latest update 21/04/16)

1.  Offers to treat
(i) Offers to consumers will be clearly portrayed. They will not contravene the terms of, and spirit of, the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, or the Business Marketing Regulations 2008. 

(ii) Terms will be fair and comply with relevant laws.

(iii) The full terms and conditions will be made available to consumers either via a website or in printed matter. Where the facility is offered to join a syndicate or club online, the website must contain the full set of terms and conditions.

(iv) Where a syndicator permits the syndicatee to sell his/her share independently, it shall be on the understanding that potential purchasers will be made fully aware of the syndicator’s current terms and conditions.

(v) Offers will not be ambiguous. For example; a Racing Club will be clearly distinguishable from racehorse ownership.

(vi)  Where an offer to treat, combines two or more definitions, the offers shall be clearly distinguishable. For example, where a racehorse is syndicated with 25 people sharing the ownership and that same horse is then added to a racing club, an acceptable set of business and/or domain names names could be XYZ Owners Syndicate and XYZ Racing Club (the two titles define the different products). An unacceptable name or domain name for the racing club in this example would be XYZ Owners Racing Club..
Note: a domain name often utilises the trading name of the business or describes the product on offer, hence it should appropriately reflect the nature of the offer. It should not create ambiguity.

(vii) Where an offer is made to sell shares in an unnamed horse, the name of the sire and dam shall be stated together with year of birth. Once the horse has been named, that name shall be clearly stated in the offer, regardless of whether or not the horse has yet raced.
Note: Just stating the breeding of a horse could possibly imply that this is an unraced horse yet to be named. Once the name of the horse has been registered, consumers should be in a position to check the race record of the horse, particularly if it has already raced.

(viii) Members should include a requirement, in their terms of business, that no syndicatee or racing club member should apply to become a client of an RSACA Member's business, if his or her name is currently published in the unpaid Forfeit List or they have been declared either a 'disqualified' or 'excluded' person under the Rules of Racing.
Note: The two forms of penalty (as well as fines and suspensions) that the BHA can impose are:

  • to make somebody who has agreed to be bound by the Rules of Racing a 'disqualified person' - Rule (A)71
  • to exclude from all licensed premises any other person ('excluded person') - Rule (A)64

  • Notes:
    ‘Syndicate’ means the equal division of full legal and equitable shares in the ownership of a racehorse.

    The person or company offering the service shall be known as the ‘syndicator’.

    A consumer accepting the syndicator’s offer to treat, shall be known as a ‘syndicatee’.

    ‘Racing Club’ means any number of people (the members) sharing an interest in one or more racehorses and/or any number of associated benefits but specifically excluding the ownership of racehorses in whole or part.

    RSACA can call upon a member to supply a list of the names of the syndicatees. Such a list should detail the percentage held by each syndicatee.

    (2)  Leased horses
    (i)  Where the business does not actually own the horse, this fact shall be clearly portrayed.

    (3) Investment opportunity
    (i)  All terms and conditions shall clearly specify that the purchase of a share in a racehorse (or the membership of a racing club) must not be regarded as an investment.

    (ii) No offer shall dilute (3) (i) by specifying historic examples of returns being made, without prominent reference to this not being an investment opportunity.

    (4)  Money back guarantees
    (i)  Where the payment for a syndicate share is governed by a money back guarantee, the relevant funds shall be lodged by the syndicator in a ‘ring fenced’ account and cannot be touched until terms of business dictate.

    (5) Register of trading (business) names
    (i) The Association shall maintain a register of trading names. The member shall request ‘key words’ for ‘protection’. For example ‘XYZ Syndicates’ may choose to seek ‘protection’ of the names ‘XYZ’ ‘XYZ Syndicates’ and ‘XYZ Racing Club’.

    Note   this is designed to protect trading names from being used on the internet, without permission of the trade mark owner, to procure business.

    (6) Intellectual property
    (i) Members agree to respect the rights of others’ intellectual property (text, photographs, artwork, trade marks, racing colours, established straplines, designs etc…)

    (7) Insurance
    (i) All syndicators agree to insure syndicated horses for third party cover.

    (8) Charity
    (i) Where a syndicate/club is marketed, in whole or part, in aid of charity, the full name of the charity must be specified and the precise nature of the contribution specified.

    (9) Approval
    (i) Marketing material or any communication to a consumer or business must not specify or imply that the syndicator or club is the member of, or is registered with an Association, Government body or Club or similar, save where the body is part of the racing industry and has a BHA recognised Code relevant to the undertakings of those engaged in the commercial activity of selling racehorse shares, or racing club memberships to consumers.
    Note: the purpose of this Rule is to help prevent syndicators from giving consumers a false impression that a particular body may have endorsed or recommended or approved the syndicate business in some way. For example; all syndicate horses are registered with BHA/Weatherbys but this does not infer approval or endorsement of the syndicate business. A further example is ROA (Racehorse Owners Association). Many syndicators are members of ROA but this does not mean that the syndicator's trading terms & conditions carry ROA approval.
    (ii) The Association does not offer consumers any guarantee, it sets standards for entry. Members may not therefore state or imply in advertising, that membership of the RSACA guarantees, promises, or ensures fair trading, or use any similar promissory terminology relating to the running of a racing club or management of a syndicate.

    (10) Unusable terms
    (i) The term ‘shareholder’ or ‘stockholder’ shall not be used in relation to membership status within a racing club.

    (ii) The term ‘shareholder’ or ‘stockholder’ shall not be used in relation to syndicate membership where the horse is leased by the syndicator, save when the syndicator specifically states that the horse is leased.

    (11) Pricing strategies
    (i) Members agree to exercise fairness and reasonableness in pricing strategies.

    (12) Jockey Club metal badges
    (i) Two metal badges permitting free entry into a Jockey Club owned racecourse are provided to each member on the understanding that they will be immediately returned to the Secretary if RSACA membership ceases. The badges may only be used by the member or his/her appointed member of staff, when engaged in the business of meeting syndicatees or racing club members at the racecourse, on the day that one of its horses is racing, or when a hospitality event is being hosted. The badges are strictly not for any personal use and cannot be transferred. In the event of any misuse or for any reason, the badges may be withdrawn at any time.

    (13) Funds
    (i)  Where a syndicator collects advance payments (from syndicatees) which include training fees, then the syndicator agrees to settle the trainer’s account, as per the training agreement.
    (ii) Where a syndicator acts as a stakeholder, funds must only be allocated for the purpose for which they were intended.

    (14) VAT Refunds
    (i) Where a syndicator is offering ownership or leasehold shares, the VAT status will be specified in the terms and conditions.

    (ii) Where prices are specified for horses and services, prices shall state: plus VAT or inc VAT or not subject to VAT.

    (iii) The VAT refund status will be clearly specified.
    Note: Most syndicatees are aware that HMRC operate a VAT concession, whereby the VAT element of payments made to a syndicator are often refunded to the syndicatees. However, there is no obligation upon a syndicator to apply for such refunds, therefore it makes sense to specify whether this facility is being offered.

    (iv) Where a syndicator seeks a refund of VAT from HMRC, in relation to the VAT payments made to the syndicator by the syndicatees, then this entitlement shall be passed (without deduction) to the syndicatees, even if VAT refunds are not specified in the syndicator's terms and conditions.

    (v)  Where the syndicator is not operating a 'catch-all' fee and has made an agreement with the syndicatee that the VAT refund will be used towards costs arising within the syndicate, this shall be acceptable provided the costs are itemised in an account, showing clearly how the credit has been applied.

    (vi)  Where the syndicatee owes a sum of money to the syndicator, the VAT refund collected by the syndicator on behalf of the syndicatee, may be used by the syndicator to offset that specific sum.
    Note: 'specific' means a defined sum as opposed to a sum that is claimed to reduce overall costs.

    (15) Retained Ownership
    (i) Should the syndicator retain any ownership of the horse, through choice or otherwise, then the syndicator must pay all costs associated with the ownership of that share, unless specified otherwise in an agreement. Note: This rule is to help protect consumers from the misleading practice of claiming that a percentage share of the horse has been retained by the syndicator because it is supposedly so well regarded, or whatever, but in reality the syndicator has deviously gleaned 100% of the true costs from the syndicatees.

    (16) Compliance with regulations
    (i)  Whilst the Association scrutinises Members' terms and conditions and advertising content, this does not infer authoritative compliance with any Regulations or advertising standards principles.

    (17) BHA Rules of Racing
    (i)  RSACA members must make syndicatees/members aware of the existence of the BHA Rules of Racing.

    (18) Price comparisons
    Syndicate and Club offers to consumers will not include price comparisons, unless they can be conclusively proved. Note: Specific like-for-like offer comparisons with other competitors' specific offers, that can be proved and verified, are acceptable. Syndicates and Clubs have a multitude of variables contained in their offers. For example, one syndicator may include horse mortality insurance in his offer. It would therefore not be reasonable for another syndicator to fail to mention that his offer does not include such insurance and then portray his service as being cheaper. Another competitor may have a higher maximum liability insurance cover. The list goes on and on. The principle of 'fair price comparisons' is enshrined in law. (See Appendix 1)

    Appendix 1

    The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008

    1) The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 implement the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD: Directive 2005/29/EC). The CPRs prohibit traders from engaging in unfair commercial practices which harm consumers' economic interests. In broad terms, commercial practices are acts or omissions by a trader directly connected to the supply of products to consumers. The giving of information about prices is one form of commercial practice.

    2) The CPRs are principles-based legislation which will operate flexibly to catch unfair practices. At their heart is a general prohibition on the use of unfair commercial practices. This is supplemented with more detailed rules on misleading actions or omissions, and on aggressive practices, where any of these would cause or be likely to cause the average consumer to take a different transactional decision; and with Schedule 1 which sets out 31 practices which are prohibited under all circumstances. A commercial practice may be misleading if it or its presentation is likely to deceive the average consumer, even if the information is factually correct. In particular, regulation 5(4)(g) of the CPRs prohibits traders from misleading consumers about the price of a product, or the manner in which the price is calculated, regulation 5(4)(h) prohibits traders from misleading consumers as to the existence of a specific price advantage, and regulations 6(4)(d) and (e) prohibit the omission, in any case of an invitation to purchase, of information on the price or on any related charges including taxes, delivery and postal charges, unless these are already apparent from the context, where any such action or omission would cause, or be likely to cause, the consumer to take a different transactional decision. In many cases, a different transactional decision is likely to mean a decision whether or not to buy a product, but it could include other decisions taken about transactions. Also, the prohibited practices listed in Schedule 1 include several which may be relevant to pricing practices. These include bait advertising (Schedule 1 item 5), bait and switch (item 6), false information about limited availability (item 7), false information about ceasing to trade (item 15), passing on materially inaccurate information about market conditions (item 18), and describing a product as "free" if the consumer has to pay anything other than the unavoidable cost of responding to the commercial practice and collecting or paying for delivery of the item (item 20). These practices are forbidden in all circumstances, irrespective of whether they might cause the consumer to take a different transactional decision or not.

    (19) Applications for RSACA membership
    (i) The Secretary shall receive applications for membership of the Association by post; RSACA, 10 Gurdons Lane, Wormley, Godalming, Surrey, GU8 5TF or by email: Upon receipt, the Secretary shall request information such as, how long trading, bank reference, copy of trading terms and conditions etc.

    (ii)  Applications meeting the required standards will then be referred to the entire membership and a vote shall be taken to accept or reject the application.

    (iii) If accepted for membership, the applicant will be granted probationary membership status for a period of six months and will automatically be permitted to include the RSACA name and logo in marketing material for the period of membership. .

    (iv) Following the probationary period, the entire membership (excluding probationary members) will be asked to vote to accept or reject the applicant for full membership.

    (v) Following a rejection of membership, the applicant is invited to appeal to the Association by writing to the Secretary.

    (vi) From time to time, full members will elect members to form a committee.

    (vii) Members elected to the committee or appointed a post (example; Chairman or Secretary) cannot use such appointment as a marketing tool.

    (viii) If a syndicate and racing club is being run by the same person/company, both businesses must be registered separately with the RSACA..

    (ix) The annual membership fee is £200 per syndicate/club. Fees are exclusive of VAT, which will be charged at the standard rate. These costs are wholly non-refundable.