A two-year dispute over the sale of a horse which cost £6,000 has been settled by the dealer involved for £30,000 just weeks before it was due to come to trial. Had it gone through the courts, the losing party could have ended up with a total bill of around £100,000.
Borehamwood-based Daniella Mattock, a regular on the show jumping circuit who also runs a riding school, paid the sum — without any admission of liability — to rider Emma Phillips weeks before the case was due to be heard over three days at Luton County Court.
A 34-year-old, London-based mother of two, Phillips paid Mattock £6,000 in November 2002 for a nine-year-old 17hh grey gelding, Finnigan’s Friend. Phillips bought the horse — after trying him over jumps and having him fully vetted — to take part in riding club activities, with a view to show jumping him. Mattock gave Phillips a written guarantee that she would exchange the horse, should he become lame.
Phillips claimed that shortly after his arrival, Finnigan’s Friend began bucking, rearing and stopping at fences, and subsequently became lame five months later. She was also to allege that Mattock had misled her over the horse’s history.
Phillips was to claim that Mattock said she didn’t have a suitable animal in stock when approached to exchange the horse, and that she subsequently refused to honour her guarantee to do so.
A spokesman for Mattock’s lawyers, Knights, says: “Daniella Mattock has tried to settle Emma Phillips’s claims on a fair basis from early on in this dispute. She has settled Emma Phillips’s claim because she couldn’t face a county court trial over these issues at this moment due to personal and family circumstances.”
Belinda Walkinshaw of Pickworths Solicitors, who was acting for Phillips, says: “A lot of people ring up about problems they’ve had after buying from a dealer or privately, and most people wouldn’t have made the effort, or had the time and money, to take it this far. But my clients were prepared to spend the money and had the will to pursue the matter.”
Had the case reached trial, Phillips intended to claim around £12,000 for the value of the horse plus its accumulated livery fees and other costs and legal costs somewhere in the region of £40,000.