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Solicitors
Decisive legal advice for businesses

Horses are classified as goods and when it comes to selling and purchasing them (when horses can range in price from thousands to hundreds of thousands and more), care must be taken in accurate advertisement and also asking the right questions when buying.

It may seem obvious from the situation but one of the first questions to ask is whether or not the individual is selling the horse as part of their business or whether they are a private individual. Secondly whether the purchaser themselves are acting as part of their business or as a private individual.

If both parties are trading as part of a business, then the Sale of Goods Act (as amended) will apply, as well as ordinary contract law. Should the seller be trading as a business and the purchaser a private individual or the other way around, the Consumer Rights Act 2015 will confer statutory rights to the consumer, as well as contractual common law. When both the seller and the purchaser are private individuals, then only contractual common law will apply.

In some instances the position on whether an individual is private or part of a business is clear, however in some scenarios the distinctions can become blurred.

The most common area of litigation in respect of horses is where a horse has been purchased and unfortunately does not live up to the promises made by the seller. This can be a concern over fitness for purpose or satisfactory quality (statutory provisions) or misrepresentation or breach of a term/warranty (common law).

Rights available should something go wrong will be dependent on the status of the parties. Although the Consumer Rights Act provides certain rights to return, repair or replacement and/or price reduction, there has yet to be any reported equine litigation on these points to decide whether such remedies could be made to work in the case of a sale of a horse, where matters can become complicated, not least in evidential terms but also potential injuries and/or vices that may have occurred to the horse.