H&H reports on the outcome of a recent case, where the crux of the decision came down to what caused the horse to rear...
A GROOM who will likely never ride again after a horse reared up and landed on her is appealing the High Court’s verdict after losing her claim for compensation.
Lisa Ford, 41, sustained serious pelvic injuries in September 2018, while out with the Beaufort Hunt, when the horse she was riding reared up, landed on her and died of a suspected heart attack.
There was no allegation of negligence against her employer, Jonathan Seymour-Williams, rather the claim was for compensation for her injuries and consequential losses under the Animals Act 1971. Ms Ford spent her life working with horses and the severity of her injuries means she is unlikely to ride again.
The hearing took place in January and judgement was delivered by Michael Kent QC on 19 February.
In court, there was some debate over whether Ms Ford was taking the horse, “Tommy”, autumn hunting as part of her job or “off-duty” for her own enjoyment, and Mr Kent ruled that she was doing so as part of her employment.
But the outcome of the case hinged not on this, but on what caused the horse to rear and fall — whether this was as a result of napping or if it was connected to a suspected heart attack.
A conclusion on which of these two possibilities resulted in the horse rearing, and subsequently falling and his death, was not reached. There was no post-mortem done and the cause of death is unlikely ever to be known.
So the wrangle came down to whether what happened that day would take the case outside what was considered a legitimate claim under the Act.
Mr Kent concluded that although Ms Ford was acting in the course of her employment, his findings surrounding the question over why the horse reared up did not satisfy the requirements under the Act to impose liability on the defendant for her injuries.
Although there is no automatic right to appeal in this sort of case, the judge gave permission.
Richard Brooks, of Royds Withy King, who acted for Ms Ford, told H&H after the conclusion of the case that Miss Ford is appealing the decision.
“This is a case in which Lisa is highly unlikely to ride horses again, which for someone who has never known anything different, will have a huge impact on her life. Having spent her life working with horses, she cannot earn a living,” he said.
Georgina Crawford, of Ropewalk Chambers, who was instructed by Langleys Solicitors on behalf of Mr Seymour-Williams, said in her blog following the outcome that the case will have a “significant impact on future Animals Act claims where the circumstances leading to injury are unclear”.