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Your Horse column – He’s not what was advertised

Q I bought a pony for my three children to share and I was told that he was suitable for novice riders, but he won’t hack out alone and he gets very nappy and rears which is not good with a 5 year old on board.

The dealer keeps saying she hasn’t got room to take him back. Can I take her to court?

A – It appears that you potentially have a case for misrepresentation. I note that the dealer portrayed the horse as a novice ride but you do not state whether or not you have evidence of this in the form of an advertisement or the like. If you do not, a witness statement from you stating that you would not have purchased for your children a pony that wasn’t represented as being safe for novice riders may well be enough to convince the court that you were led to believe that the pony was suitable.

The basic rule in English law is caveat emptor – let the buyer beware. It is the purchaser’s job to exercise due diligence and ensure that he is getting what he is paying for. However the seller is not entitled to misrepresent, in this case the pony, to achieve a sale.

In relation to actually taking the dealer to court the majority of claims settle out of court so hopefully a court hearing would not be necessary. You do not state the value of the pony. If you paid in excess of £5,000 you would be able to instruct a solicitor on a no-win no-fee basis providing the solicitor deemed you to have above a 50% prospect of success. If the claim was successful you would be entitled to keep 100% of your compensation and the solicitor would recover his/her costs from the other side. If you were unsuccessful the solicitor would write off his/her costs and you would pay nothing.

If you paid less than £5,000 for the pony the solicitor would not be entitled to recover his/her costs from the other side which means that you may wish to pursue the matter yourself through the small claims court rather than paying a solicitor to act on a private hourly rate.

Alternatively if you have home contents insurance you may well benefit from free legal expense cover which means that providing the panel firm of solicitors informs the insurer that you have above 50% prospects of success they will act for you for free even if your loss is not above £5,000.

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