Formal warnings

The APVMA can issue a formal written warning if it has reasonable grounds to suspect that a person has contravened the Agvet Code, the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992 (the Admin Act) or the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemical Products (the Collection of Levy) Act 1994 (Collection Act).

This page explains how formal warnings work and how they are enforced.

1. What is a formal warning?

The issue of a formal warning letter places a person on notice that we have identified an issue of concern and gives them an opportunity to take corrective action. A warning also signals that any further noncompliance may result in an escalated response.

Warnings identify the nature of the offence, the relevant legislative provisions, the maximum penalty for the offence and a timeframe for rectification. They also note that failure to address the breach will result in a more severe sanction.

We monitor compliance with warning letters within three months of the issue date to ensure that the conduct has been rectified.

We do not issue multiple formal warnings in relation to the same breach.

2. Overview of the legislative provisions

Section 69EO of the Admin Act provides that the APVMA may issue a formal warning to a person if the APVMA reasonably believes that the person has contravened provisions of the Admin Act or Collection Act. Section 145J of the Agvet Code provides that the APVMA may issue a formal warning to a person if the APVMA reasonably believes that a person has contravened provisions of the Agvet Code.

3. When will we issue a formal warning?

The APVMA will issue a formal warning when we consider that it is appropriate to provide an opportunity for voluntary corrective action, rather than to initiate enforcement action. We are likely to do so only in situations in which noncompliance has a relatively minor risk of causing harm, where the benefit of the noncompliance to the contravening party is negligible, and where the person contravening the Agvet legislation is a minor.

In deciding whether to issue a formal warning, we may also consider the person’s history of interaction with us, whether there is a history of noncompliance with APVMA-administered legislation, whether the matter is self-reported, and whether the entity has taken any steps to remedy the breach.

We may consider that a formal warning is not appropriate in circumstances in which the warning might not result in sustained compliance (for example, if it would be easy to reverse the rectified conduct required to achieve compliance, such as amendments to online listings of products for sale).

4. Publication or disclosure

In accordance with the principle of transparency outlined in the APVMA’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy, every enforcement matter that is dealt with through litigation or formal resolution is made public.

In accordance with this principle, the APVMA’s maintains a register on its website and may use the register to list details of formal warnings. However, we do not disclose confidential commercial information or private information.

The APVMA considers that publishing information about enforcement matters provides for a broader educative and deterrent effect.

5. Additional considerations

The issue of a formal warning is not a prerequisite for prosecution or other enforcement action by the APVMA.

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