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Your Horse column – Liability for a vet bill incurred as a result of an uncharged electric fence battery

Q My horse was injured recently by a neighbouring horse who broke through some electric fencing and got into his field.

My horse was kicked quite badly and needed veterinary attention. The other horse is a known escape artist and his owner had failed to charge the battery on the fencing. I think she should pay at least some of the vet’s bills as she was negligent in allowing her horse to break into my field, but she refuses. Is there anything I can do?

A The Animals Act 1971 does cover damage to property as well as damage to the person and it seems arguable that the criteria in s.2(2) are met on the alternative bases that the horse had the predisposition to do what it did or that any normal horse might kick in the particular circumstances of two horses being together. The latter may be more productive because what we would have to show is that the characteristic leading to the damage (which may not be escaping), was known to the keeper. Ultimately this is a straightforward claim in negligence which would hopefully be covered under the Defendant’s household insurance policy.

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