31st March, 2023

Victoria Rigby: No one size fits all in equine

Recent horse cases reaffirm that there is no 'one size fits all' approach in equine cases
The case-by-case approach is very much still in play.

The takeaway from the judgment of Lady Justice Carr in the case of Ford v Seymour Williams [2021] EWCA Civ 1848 demonstrates that it is not enough that Claimants can prove under s2(2)(c) that the Defendant had knowledge that his horse could rear. The Claimant must also prove that the Defendant knew that his horse could do this in the ‘particular times and circumstances’ which materialised in the case under s2(2)(b). Those times and circumstances must be capable of identification.

The interplay between the three sections is crucial here, as is the need to comply with each section.

Similarly, in the case of Schoultz v Ball [2022] EWHC 2452 KB the facts initially seemed remarkably similar to those in the case of Mirvahedy wherein a horse escaped from its field and collided with a car on a highway causing severe injury to the occupant. In Mirvahedy, the Claimant succeeded under Section 2(2)(b).

The distinguishing feature here was that rather than escaping from the field in a blind panic and charging down the highway at speed, this horse was neither frightened nor panicked and had been seen walking along the motorway. The behaviour was not sufficient to satisfy s2(2)(b) in that the likelihood of damage was not due to characteristics of the horse which were not normally found in horses except a particular times or in particular circumstances. Rather it was due to the horse being a large and heavy animal which was standing on a dual carriage way where it should not have been standing. This case reiterates that nothing is predictable when it comes to establishing liability under the Act.

As an aside it was found that fence posts were inadequately installed in that they had only been sunk to a depth of 6-8” as opposed to the 16-18” claimed.

Victoria Rigby

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