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Success at court defending a £75,000 claim against yard owner

HorseSolicitor has successfully defended a client, Ms W, against a claim for over £75,000.00.

Ms W owns and operates a livery yard which caters for 45 horses on a DIY basis.

The Claimant was a 10 year old girl who stabled a pony, that she had on loan, at our client’s yard.

On the day of the accident the Claimant took the pony off the yard on an unsupervised hack and was unfortunately thrown off, sustaining two fractures to her thoracic spine which required surgery.

The Claimant’s Solicitors, who were not equine specialists, submitted that in addition to providing livery services, Ms W, was also responsible for the provision of riding lessons, the pony’s loan scheme, and for supervising minors while they were on the yard. It was consequently the Claimant’s case that Ms W had been negligent by failing to ensure that the Claimant was supervised whilst she was on the yard and that Ms W should have prevented the Claimant from leaving the yard with the pony.

The Defendant’s case, as put forward by HorseSolicitor, was that Ms W had no involvement with the loan scheme or the riding lessons and that the yard’s policy was that children under 16 should not have been on the yard without supervision. Further, the Claimant’s mother was, or should have been, aware of this because the yard rules were displayed prominently in the office and in a contract she was provided with (but did not sign or return). Consequently, it was the Defendant’s case that the Claimant’s mother ought properly to have arranged for the Claimant to be supervised whilst at the yard.

HorseSolicitor robustly defended the case and invited the Claimant to discontinue her claim on the basis that she had no prospects of success; however she elected not to do so.

Consequently, the matter proceeded to trial on 5th November 2015 where the Judge dismissed the claim on the basis that Ms W did not owe the Claimant a duty of care (i.e. there was no obligation for her to have supervised the Claimant while she was on the yard) and awarded Ms W her costs of defending the case.

This case strongly highlights the importance of instructing equine specialists, as there would have been significant financial consequences to Ms W if the claim against her was successful.

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