Ask H&H: refund on a horse

  • Q: MY daughter recently sold a six-year-old mare. The purchaser tried the horse twice before deciding to buy and brought an independent adviser with her. The purchaser paid cash for the horse and the next day phoned my daughter to say the horse was very unsettled in its new yard. It had run through some electric fencing, and as a result had been stabled, where it failed to settle.

    By the end of the week the purchaser decided she no longer wanted the horse as the livery yard had told her to leave. My daughter is not in a position to re-purchase the horse but agreed that the horse could temporarily return to our livery yard and she would re-sell the horse for her. The purchaser signed a livery contract with our yard owner.

    She claims that as she has returned the horse within seven days she is entitled to her money back, including £80 paid for a week’s livery.

    The horse was sold as seen, with no written contract. The horse can be a bit bolshy, but this was pointed out to the purchaser before she bought it.
    JL, Cornwall

    WE asked Stuart Farr of Laytons solicitors how your daughter should proceed in these circumstances.

    “Assuming your daughter sold the mare in a private capacity, and not as part of a business, the usual conditions under the sale of goods legislation (which require the horse to be fit for its purpose and of satisfactory quality) will not apply,” he explains.

    “In private sales the purchaser’s statutory right to challenge the deal is usually on the basis that the animal does not comply with the description applied to it. In this case, your comment that the purchaser tried the horse several times and the mare’s characteristics were spelled out clearly beforehand would suggest that a claim based on misdescription would be more difficult to argue.”

    Many horses become unsettled when moving to a new home and Stuart believes a couple of days was probably insufficient for a new owner to allow a horse to adjust to its new environment. He also believes that the purchaser’s wish to return the horse could have been motivated by her exclusion from the livery yard rather than any breach of contract or wrong-doing when selling the horse.

    “Simply being unhappy with a purchase, strictly speaking, is insufficient to allow a purchaser to reject it unless it is done by mutual agreement,” says Stuart.

    “From what you say, it is debatable whether the horse has been rejected anyway — the purchaser has signed a new livery agreement and apparently agreed that your daughter will help her re-sell the mare. It is even arguable that by electing to choose this remedy, as opposed to simply returning the mare and leaving it for you or your daughter to deal with, the purchaser has now lost the right to reject.

    “It is not clear what the purchaser is saying your daughter did wrong and so a purchaser’s demands for reimbursement in these circumstances should be questioned,” adds Stuart.

    “If they persist you should consider taking legal advice on the matter.”


    Laytons Solicitors Tel: 0161 834 2100 www.laytons.com

    This Q&A was first published in Horse & Hound (28 December, ’07)

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