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Lack of written agreements at root of many equine disputes

01 January 2009, at 12:00am

“The equine industry has unsurprisingly become yet another victim of today’s compensation culture,” barrister Richard Liddell told Martineau’s recent equine law seminar.

 “This has resulted in a substantial increase in the quantity and cost of disputes and the equine industry has been hit by escalating insurance costs,” he continued. “We are seeing an increasing number of claims litigation relating to the buying and selling of horses, which are frequently based around issues of inaccurate pre-purchase information.

 “Veterinarians are also facing an increased risk of being sued. Pre-purchase veterinary examinations frequently give rise to such claims if abnormalities are missed and they come to light after purchase. “In order to reduce legal disputes it is important that purchasers provide clear instructions to their veterinarians and that the veterinarians keep good records of those instructions together with their findings on examination.” 

The seminar, on how best to avoid costly legal disputes involving horse ownership, contractual relationships, veterinary treatment and issues of informed consent, was also addressed by Graeme McPherson, QC, who said that a lack of written agreements or records was at the root of many equine disputes.

 “It is advisable to put as much as possible in writing – livery or training agreements, pre-sale discussions, the terms of sale and purchase agreements, veterinary instructions and advice and so forth. Without written evidence, claims can become a battle of memories and will be time-consuming, costly and uncertain,” he said.

 For more information see The firm publishes a quarterly equine law brief which can be downloaded free from the website. The first issue covers accidents, age discrimination, national minimum wage, dos and don’ts of buying horses and a Q&A page.


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