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Horse Purchase Disputes – where do you stand?

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Here at Edmondson Hall Solicitors, our team have successfully represented both buyers and sellers of horses, when a dispute has arisen. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for disputes to arise when buying or selling a horse.  Within this article, we have set out where you may stand, if you have an issue with a horse purchased from either a trade seller or private seller.

Private Sale/Purchase

If you purchase a horse from a private seller, the longstanding legal principle of caveat emptor (or “buyer beware”) applies. In these circumstances, the purchaser must carefully consider whether the horse is suitable, of satisfactory quality, fit for their intended purpose and meets their description. This ultimately means there is a lower level of protection for the purchaser, if a dispute subsequently arises.

Nonetheless, the seller must ensure that they provide an accurate description of the horse,  otherwise a claim may be brought by the purchaser under the Misrepresentation Act 1967.

Misrepresentation is where a statement (known as a ‘representation’) has been made (about the goods being sold), which is false, but induces the buyer to proceed with the purchase. This could include an advert, or any other verbal or written description provided by the seller, stating that a horse is suitable for a particular purpose (i.e., show jumping at a certain level), and it subsequently transpires that this is not the case. There are five elements to a claim for misrepresentation, as follows: –

  1. The Seller makes a representation to the Purchaser (of fact, about the horse).
  2. The Purchaser acts in reliance on the representation.
  3. The Seller intends that the Purchaser should act in reliance on representation to purchase the horse.
  4. The representation is false.
  5. And, in consequence, the Purchaser suffers loss as a result.

There are three categories for a misrepresentation claim; innocent, fraudulent, and negligent. Issuing a claim against a seller for misrepresentation is complex, however, if successful, the purchaser could rescind the agreement, recover the purchase price, and potentially claim a refund from the seller for expenses they have incurred in respect of the horse (i.e., veterinary fees, livery fees, training fees).

Trade/Commercial Sale/Purchase

If you purchase a horse from a trade seller, you have an increased level of protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (‘CRA 2015’). Under Section 9, 10, and 11 of the CRA 2015, ‘goods’ must be of satisfactory quality, fit for a particular purpose, and as described. For the avoidance of doubt, horses are considered to be ‘goods’ in the eyes of the Law.

Therefore, if you have purchased a horse from a trade/commercial seller which is not of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, or as initially described, you can exercise your right to a full refund under the CRA 2015.

This right to reject the goods and receive a full refund is only available to the purchaser for the first 30 days following the purchase and delivery of the horse – so it is crucial to act as quickly as possible. Beyond 30-days, it becomes more difficult to prove that the issues with the horse occurred before purchase.

As a trade seller, it is essential that any vices or ‘issues’ with the horse are drawn to the purchasers attention before a contract is entered into, to offer protection against any future claim being issued against you.

What is clear from the above information, and from our firsthand experience, is that it is critical to act quickly and obtain specialist legal advice if you have been mis-sold a horse, or, you are a seller facing a claim.

Our team are highly skilled and generally have personal specialist knowledge from their own experience with horses. Our firm has been recognised as Equine Law firm of the year by Corporate International and Global Law Experts for a number of years and we are regularly instructed by equine professionals . If you need assistance with a Horse Purchase Dispute, or wish to discuss how you can protect yourself from a potential claim being brought against you, please do not hesitate to contact a member from our team (details below) to arrange an initial consultation.

In addition to disputes relating to the sale and purchase of horses, we can also assist you with:

  • Veterinary Negligence Claims.
  • Recovery of debts such as livery fees, stallion nomination fees, training fees etc.
  • Bloodstock Contracts including Sale Agreements, Syndication Agreements, Foal Share Agreements, and International Leasing.

Article written by Francesca Cann Advanced Paralegal (GCILEx) & Trainee Solicitor.

If you would like further advice on any of the topics mentioned please contact our expert team by telephone on 01638 560556 or via the email addresses below.

 

Mark Edmondson – mark.edmondson@edmondsonhall.com

Deborah Hargreaves – deborah.hargreaves@edmondsonhall.com

Francesca Cann – francesca.cann@edmondsonhall.com

www.edmondsonhall.com

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