Ask H&H: buying a horse via an agent

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    Q: If buying a horse from a German agent, who would be liable if things went wrong?
    RB, Surrey

    Tanja Uredat, managing director of the German Horse Center, a service for buying German dressage horses and show jumping horses, says brokers usually do not enter into direct contractual agreements with purchasers.

    “Purchasers must choose and assess vendors carefully,” she said.

    Tanja recommends clarifying terms of the commission, payable to the agent by partners such as studs.

    “Will commission be reimbursed if the purchase is cancelled?” she said. “The German Horse Center pays commission back if cancellation occurs within a year of the purchase date.”

    According to Tanja, the German vendor usually carries out a pre-purchase inspection and X-rays.

    “However, a further inspection should also be carried out on behalf of the purchaser, for example by a horse hospital or independent equine vet,” she said.

    The contract of sale is formalised directly with the vendor. Michael Klimke, lawyer at the German Horse Center’s legal partners, Klimke & Kollegen, advises that a statement about the horse’s level of training and health status should be included in the contract.

    “If at the time of transfer the horse has an illness of which the purchaser was not initially aware, there is a legal right of return in Germany, depending on circumstances,” he said.

    According to Mark Charter of UK solicitors Blake Lapthorn, the owner and agent may both potentially be liable in the event of things going wrong, depending on the agreement terms and circumstances.

    “The best purchaser protection is a pre-sale, detailed, written contract which, in addition to details about the horse, specifies jurisdiction of the legal system in which disputes will be resolved – for this reader, England and Wales,” said Mark.

    “If the reader obtained judgement in the English court, that judgement could be enforced in Germany – the converse is true if the German vendor sued the reader.

    “If the horse is vetted by a German equine vet, the reader should be aware of the logistics of pursuing a claim against a equine vet in a ‘foreign’ jurisdiction, if there was a vetting problem.”


    Blake Lapthorn, tel: 02380 857116 www.bllaw.co.uk

    The German Horse Center, tel: 0049 2161 475935 www.germanhorsecenter.com

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (14 May, ’09)

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