Our firm has lawyers, specialized in equestrian law, (horse rights) who can help you on your way to disputes.
What if you bought a horse with a hidden defect? A crippled horse, a manger, air cleaner or weaver? Or you have sold a horse and the buyer speaks to you because of defects? What if you have a horse and want to sell it correctly? How do you handle that? And what should you pay attention to when the buyer and the seller come from different European countries?
Equestrian laws and regulations
There is no chapter equestrian law in Dutch law. Horses are considered as business according to the law and therefore fall under the Dutch (general) & contract law.
Each country has its own set of contract law rules for the purchase and sale of goods. In addition, there are treaties that can be declared applicable to a purchase agreement within Europe, so when the buyer and seller of a horse live in two different countries in Europe.
Buying a horse through a trader or private person?
In Dutch contract law, there is a big difference between buying through a trader (or commercial stable) and buying through a private individual (a private person). Different regulations apply for this.
If there is an intermediary, then it is a question of interpretation and assessment of what the intermediary has done in the purchase transaction & ndash; for whom he acted and what his role was & ndash; to determine who is, for example, liable when purchasing a supposedly bad or defective horse.
Hidden defects horse and liability
A trader or merchant stable is more likely to be liable to a hidden shortage of a horse in comparison with a private individual, which will come to light at a later time.
In a purchase transaction between private individuals (private parties), the buyer must in principle submit a complaint to the seller within one month after he knows or should know that there is a defect in the horse. The buyer must demonstrate that the animal does not meet the expectations of the purchase, that the animal has not been delivered healthy and that the defect already existed at the time the animal was sold.
Deadline for hidden horsebacks
In a purchase transaction between a consumer and a merchant stable, in principle a period applies for hidden defects in horses six months after delivery. Moreover, within this period, the law basically assumes that the hidden defect already existed at the time of the sale of the horse and that the trader is liable. The burden of proof is therefore reversed here. This can cause problems for a vendor.
Sample case Wabooshka (crippled horse)
A case involving liability in case of a hidden shortage of a horse was a dispute with the court of Almelo on 5 December 2012. The horse Wabooshka was clinically approved and delivered to the buyer. A month later, however, it turned out that the horse was crippled.
Because there was a consumer purchase and the defect revealed within six months, the starting point was that the defect already existed at the time of the sale. It was therefore up to the seller to make it plausible that the horse was not crippled at the time of delivery.
Several statements from witnesses, including veterinarians, showed that the lameness could have various causes, including osteoarthritis and damage to the biceps tendon. However, the actual cause of the defect was not established. Nor was it established that the defect had arisen before delivery. Nevertheless, the court comes & ndash; because the burden of proof lies legally with the seller & ndash; to the opinion that the seller failed to make it plausible that the horse was n & iacute; & eacute; t crippled at the delivery. In the end it is irrelevant that both the buyer and the veterinarian did not notice the defect during the inspection.
Sample case Starfighter (dressage horse)
At the Haarlem District Court in May 2010, it was dressage stables Sander Marijnissen and dressage horse Starfighter. In 2008 Starfighter was sold to an English intermediary, for the benefit of a rider. The horse was inspected by an independent veterinarian. After the crossing to England it turned out that the horse showed lameness symptoms on the left hind leg. Several studies were carried out. It showed that the horse was suffering from tendon injury, a deviation that had manifested itself within a period of six months. Because the various investigations do not show that the defect already existed at the time of the transfer, the burden of proof in this case was ultimately placed with the buyer. The buyer could subsequently make the presence of the lack of the judge sufficiently plausible: it could not be excluded that the horse already had the defect at the time of delivery.
Eventually, the case was arranged. If the judge had made a statement, the problem would have arisen that the dressage stall might not succeed in making it plausible that the delivery deficiency did not already exist.
Disadvantages current legislation
The law sees possible problems as the seller's risk in consumer affairs (here a trader). Even if three doctors can not find any injuries prior to the purchase, it is difficult to establish that it is onm & oacute: the horse has a hidden defect or injury that will reveal itself later on. A defect can not actually have been there, but the trader does run a risk when selling a horse. There is a risk that he has to take back the horse, with all the consequences that entails.
Because the law is so strict and its effect is difficult to fathom for a layman, it quickly seems that a trader or merchant's shop is taking the matter. On the other hand, a merchant stable with a good name can by the strict risk requirement in the law & ndash; that does not do justice to what actually happens - & ndash; strongly discredited.
Inspection of a horse
It is up to a buyer to do a veterinary examination, among other things to check the seller's communications. It is also up to the buyer to be present during the veterinary examination, so that, for example, photo's can not be exchanged. Costs are associated with the veterinary research. The buyer decides how extensive the veterinary examination should be. Usually you see in practice that with horses from around & euro; 5000 no comprehensive inspection is done. In horses with a prize of more than & euro; 10,000 is usually done.
What has to be shown during an inspection depends on the question of the buyer. Whether a foreign investigation, for example a Canadian investigation, is valid in the Netherlands, is in principle dependent on what both parties have agreed upon in the sale. It is up to the buyer to use his own veterinary in an investigation. If there is a procedure, several expert examinations are usually carried out.
In case the judge in a procedure determines that there is a defect and that the animal must be taken back by the seller, the buyer can indicate that he has certain costs for the horse (house, food, etc.) made. If these costs are proven, the judge will oblige the seller to reimburse these costs to the buyer.
The costs incurred for the animal during a procedure depend on who gets the right in the procedure. Usually the losing party is stuck with the costs for the animal.
The horse often turns out to be worth nothing after the procedure. After all, the average procedures take a long time. At that time, the animal is often no longer trained and has therefore lost its muscle volumes.
Possible alternative in the future
Disputes about a horse can lead to complex lawsuits & ndash; in which it is not always clear beforehand who the burden of proof lies. To prevent such cases, it would be good if there were opportunities in the future to resolve disputes in a different way.
For example, our firm would like to resolve horse disputes through arbitration or with the collaborative method, a legal consultation method, in which horse experts and medical experts are present.
A committee of arbitrators, in which (horse) experts sit, can better judge what is going on with the horse than a judge, since judges still keep horses as a 'case'. see, even though the case is a living being. A lack can occur with living beings & ndash; different from real business & ndash; from one day to the next.
Arbitration and a collaborative solution could prevent a lot of horse suffering. Also the costs that are now accompanied by lengthy procedures could be better kept under control. For the time being, however, these options are legally (still) not possible.
Contact a lawyer equestrian law?
Do you want to know if and with which our office can help you? Please contact us by telephone without obligation, or make an appointment with one of our horse rights specialists, who can help you on your way through the contact form and we will contact you.