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Are horse owners strictly liable for personal injuries caused by their horses?

29 Apr 2009, 14:14 by Nathalie Bull

Labels: barrister, equine, horse, law, liability, personal-injury

In the case of Mirvahedy v Henley [2003] UKHL 16, the House of Lords confirmed that strict liability could arise under section 2(2) of the The Animals Act 1971 where personal injuries are caused by a horse which, although not behaving at the time of the accident in a way that is normal for the species, is nevertheless normal for animals of the species in the particular circumstances. In this case horses escaped from their field, bolted for a distance of over a mile onto a dual carriageway and struck a car, causing the driver to suffer serious personal injury. The horse owner was strictly liable for the damages.

However, cases following Mirvahedy, such as Freeman v Higher Park Farm [2008] All ER (D) 310, have demonstrated that decisions on strict liability are highly fact sensitive. The case of Freeman concerned a bucking horse which caused its rider to fall. This case failed on the basis of the lack of evidence that horses generally buck at particular times or in particular circumstances. In any event, the rider was excepted from liability under s.2 by s.5(2) as the rider was said to have voluntarily assumed the risk of damage by continuing to ride a horse which had already bucked during the same ride.

In conclusion, thorough factual analysis of every potential equine related personal injury claim is essential in order to determine whether a horse owner will be strictly liable for personal injuries caused by their horse.

 Written by Nathalie Bull, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Equine Law.

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Fireworks and Horses - A Disastrous Combination

17 Nov 2008, 10:42 by Nathalie Bull

Labels: animal-welfare, barrister, equine, fine, firework, horse, imprisonment, law, lawyer

Every year many horses suffer as a direct result of fireworks being let off in close proximity to their stables.  In extreme cases death, injury or damage to property can ensue.  Fireworks must not be set off near horses or any livestock in fields or close to their stables.   It is a criminal offence pursuant to section 4 of the Animal Welfare Act 2006 for a person to cause an animal to suffer when he knew or ought reasonably to have known that the animal would suffer unnecessarily.  The maximum penalty for this offence is imprisonment for a term not exceeding 51 weeks, or/and a fine not exceeding £20,000.

Written by Nathalie Bull, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Equine Law.

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Racehorse 'Ringer' Fraud

08 May 2008, 08:52 by Nathalie Bull

Labels: equine-law, horse, law, racing, scam, tribunal

In the recent case concerning Robert Tierney a farrier, and his son Richard Tierney an amateur jockey, one of the biggest racing scams was proved.  In this case a horse was put into two races to impersonate another horse, in breach of Regulation 161(v) of the Jockey Club Regulations for Point-to-Point Steeple Chases.  The tribunal panel stated: "Running a ringer strikes at the very heart of the integrity of the sport".  The tribunal disqualified Robert Tierney from participating in the sport for 6 years.  As Richard Tierney was only 17 years old at the time of the scam and had acted under the influence of his father, the tribunal disqualified him for 2 years.

A full report of this case can be found in Volume 13, Issue 2 of ‘Horse Law'.

Written by Nathalie Bull, Barrister at New Walk Chambers, specialising in Equine Law.

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