If you sell a horse, it must comply with the purchase agreement. In other words: the horse must meet what the buyer could expect based on the purchase agreement.
An example: if you sell a horse as a show jumping horse, it must be suitable for that purpose and be able to jump. If the horse does not comply with the purchase agreement – cannot jump and therefore does not have the properties that the buyer could expect (non-conformity) – the buyer may be able to terminate the purchase agreement. The seller must then take back the horse and refund the purchase price (possibly with additional costs incurred) to the buyer.
It is therefore wise to discuss and include in the purchase agreement what the horse will be used for and what the buyer wants to use the horse for (for example as a jumping horse). Then that is clear. It is also important to discuss any defects of the horse (for example, conditions, including those from the past) with the buyer in advance and to mention them in the purchase agreement. The buyer cannot then say afterwards that the horse does not comply with the purchase agreement.
The purchase agreement can only be terminated if the horse did not comply with the purchase agreement upon delivery. In legal proceedings it is up to the buyer to prove this. If you are a professional seller and you sell a horse to a consumer (a consumer purchase), the consumer is helped with a presumption of proof: if the defect comes to light within one year after delivery, it is (in principle) suspected that the horse was delivery did not comply with the purchase agreement, unless the seller proves that this was the case. The statutory period of one year may soon be reduced to six months.
It is important for sellers to consider in advance whether this concerns a consumer purchase, because special rules apply to this. Consumer purchase or not, in both cases I recommend collecting ‘evidence’ in advance that the horse complies with the agreement. For example, shortly before delivery, take photos of hooves, legs and teeth and videos showing the horse being ridden and/or moving. In addition, as a seller, have the horse undergo a veterinary inspection in advance, especially if it is a more expensive horse.
Duty to notify
As a seller of a horse you have a duty of disclosure. This means that the seller must share certain information about the horse with the buyer prior to concluding the purchase agreement. If you know something about the horse and you know or think that that information is important to the buyer for his decision about the purchase, it is important to inform the buyer about this. If you do not do this and the buyer finds out, the buyer may be able to annul the purchase agreement on the grounds of error. Destruction also means (in any case) that the seller must take back the horse and refund the purchase price plus any costs incurred) to the buyer. It is therefore important to report relevant information (for example, past veterinary defects) to the buyer in advance, even if the buyer does not ask for it. Also include this information in the purchase agreement with a note that the buyer is aware of it. Then that is fixed.
The sale of a horse can be a distance purchase. This is the case if it concerns a purchase agreement between a professionally acting seller and a consumer, which is concluded within the framework of an organized distance selling system and which takes place without the trader and consumer being personally present at the same time and only a means of remote communication is used. For example, purchasing a horse through an online auction can be a distance purchase. In the case of a distance purchase, if the seller is a professional actor, the buyer can terminate the purchase agreement within fourteen days without giving reasons. As a professional seller, you must inform the consumer about this ‘right of withdrawal’ prior to concluding the agreement. If you do not do this, the period for dissolution will be extended by a maximum of one year. It is therefore advisable to consider in advance whether this concerns a distance purchase and the obligations that apply.
Written purchase agreement
As shown in the foregoing, it is very important to enter into a written purchase agreement. Agreements must be recorded on topics such as the (payment of the) purchase price, delivery of the horse, moment of transfer of risk and liability. It is important that these agreements can be proven afterwards.
To avoid disputes, it is advisable to obtain legal advice in advance and to have a purchase agreement drawn up/checked.
Wibe Reddingius is a lawyer and partner at Langelaar Klinkhamer Advocaten. He specializes in the areas of corporate law, contract law and (international) commercial law. In addition, Wibe is a specialist in the field of equestrian law and as such he is a lawyer for well-known riders, breeders, traders and equestrian trade organizations. Questions regarding this blog post? Contact Wibe by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.