Purchasing/selling your horse; everything you need to know

There are many risks involved when purchasing ‘goods’; that is why legislation has been put in place to assist in providing protection to consumers.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 (‘CRA 2015’) provides certain statutory rights for purchasers when buying a horse as a ‘consumer’ from a ‘trader’ (or also known in the equine industry as a ‘dealer’). The CRA 2015 applies to all horse purchases between a trader and consumer on or after 1 October 2015.

The statute affords protection if the horse does not match the terms implied by the CRA 2015, which are as follows:

  • It is of satisfactory quality (S.9, CRA 2015).
  • It is fit for any particular purposes which the consumer made the trader aware of (S.10, CRA 2015).
  • It is ‘as described’ (S.11, CRA 2015).

If the consumer believes that these implied terms have been breached by the trader, the CRA 2015 provides guidelines on the timing of the consumer’s rights to reject the horse:

  • A consumer will have 30 days to reject the horse from the day it arrives (S.22(3), CRA 2015).
  • Where a consumer has lost the right to reject the horse, the consumer must allow the seller (trader) at least one opportunity to replace or remediate the horse before the consumer can exercise their final right to reject it (S.23, CRA 2015).
  • Where the seller’s attempt at replacement or remediation fails, or is impossible, the consumer can then exercise a final right to reject (S.24, CRA 2015).

Clear communication is imperative in disputes of this nature and it is advisable that consumers gives both oral and written notice to the seller (trader) of the notice of rejection.

It should be noted that the CRA 2015 does not offer private buyers any protection when making purchases from private sellers (i.e., non-dealers/tradespeople). The law “caveat emptor” (let the buyer beware) applies in these types of transactions.

If a private buyer purchases a horse from a private seller and it later transpires the horse is not as expected, the buyer has to prove the seller knew, or ought to have known, the problem the horse had when it was sold, with any claim usually being pursued under the law of misrepresentation.

There are three different types of misrepresentation that a buyer may allege: –

  • Fraudulent misrepresentation (the seller deliberately misrepresents the facts).
  • Negligent misrepresentation (the seller is careless as to whether the information is true).
  • Innocent misrepresentation (the seller turns out to be in the wrong, but through no fault of their own).

The remedies available for a claimant are different based on the type of misrepresentation – a buyer may be able to claim recission (i.e. the cancellation of the contract) or, alternatively, they might be entitled to claim damages.

In order to avoid a dispute arising in the first place, it is advisable that when private buyers make a purchase via a private seller that they consider the below: –

  • Have a written, signed, and dated list of representations that the seller has made regarding the horse, such as the horse’s ability, soundness, and temperament.
  • Have a written, signed, and dated receipt stating explicitly who the owner of the horse is, and who the owner of the horse will be after the transaction.
  • If possible, take another person along when viewing the horse, to act as a witness should it ever be needed further down the line.
  • It is also advisable to get the horse examined by an independent equine vet.

If a private buyer purchases a horse from a person who is selling on behalf of another (i.e., if the horse is on ‘sales livery’), and a problem arises with the horse, the buyer cannot make a claim against the person who they bought the horse from (i.e., the agent).  Instead, they would have to make a claim against the person who owned the horse, therefore reducing the buyer’s legal protection as this claim would not arise under the CRA 2015 (as it isn’t recognised as a business transactions).  In this scenario the buyer would have to prove misrepresentation.

Despite best precautions, disputes inevitably happen.  In such circumstances, it is important to obtain the advice of solicitors with knowledge and expertise in equine law.

Read our equine law page here 

For more information, or legal assistance regarding this article. Do not hesitate to get in touch.




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