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Your Horse column – Legal issues to consider when buying a horse

Q What are the paperwork and legal sides of buying a horse?

’m currently looking at buying my first horse but all I know is that I need to tell the passport company within thirty days. Any more tips?

A – As you correctly stated it is vital that you notify the Horse Passport Agency to avoid a fine. Aside from this the most important aspect relates to ensuring that you have adequate public liability insurance in place. Whilst this is not a legal requisite failure to do so may result in you becoming personally liable for a six figure claim were your horse to cause a serious accident.

I would strongly advise that you have the horse vetted and ride the horse a number of times in various situations prior to purchase. Again this is not a legal requirement but far too often our firm is contacted by buyers that are shocked to find out that the horse they thought they were purchasing is not suitable. It is far better to spend the time and money ensuring as far as possible that the horse is suitable rather than having to seek legal representation having found out that you have purchased a horse that is unsuitable or unsound.

It is advisable to have the buyer complete a form detailing a list of specific questions in relation to the wellbeing and temperament of the horse. Ask that she/he signs the same. If it later transpires that the horse is not as represented it is not a case of your word against her as to what was said in the course of the sale and you would have evidence to bring a claim for misrepresentation.

As a horse owner you will of course have responsibilities under the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Failure to adhere to the welfare requirements stipulated within the Act can result in a maximum fine of £20,000 or sentence of up to six months in prison.

PDF Document: The legal issues when buying a horse.pdf

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