Fitness For Purpose

Purchasing a horse can be an expensive venture and therefore you want to be sure that is suitable for your intended use. Whether that is competing at an elementary dressage level or a pony that is suitable for your beginner 8 year old daughter. Unfortunately, dishonest dealers exist and they can be deceitful when it comes to selling you a horse fit for you and your intended purpose with that horse. But what can you do about it?

Fitness for Purpose – Rights against a dealer

Under Australian Law, fitness for purpose is a legal concept that provides that purchased goods must be fit for their intended purposeHorses are considered goods/property for the purpose of law. This means that after having disclosed a particular purpose to the seller (such as I require a horse that is suitable for a beginner), a guarantee exists that the goods (the horse) will be reasonably fit for that purpose. If this guarantee is not met remedies become available to rectify the situation.

Requirements for Fitness for Purpose

Certain elements must be satisfied in order to establish an action (a right to take action).  These are:

  • You must not have purchased the horse from an auction.
  • The purpose that you purchased the horse form must have been disclosed directly to the seller or a person whom prior negotiations are communicated with.
  • It must be clear that you relied on the skill and judgement of the seller when purchasing the horse.

Fitness for Purpose – Rights against a private seller

Unfortunately, if you purchase a horse through a private sale, implied terms referring to quality and fit for purpose do not apply. Rather the legal maxim ‘buyer beware’ is engaged and buyers should make necessary investigations and queries that the horse meets their intended purposes.  However, remedies may be available if the horse does not correspond with the seller’s description as well as a potential action in misrepresentation.


Remedies for non-compliance of implied terms as to fitness for purpose may be:

  • rescission of contract,
  • full refund of the horse,
  • return of the horse and reimbursement of any costs associated with maintaining the horse until return to the seller.

Please don’t hesitate to contact Equilegal if you would like more information regarding a matter you have.

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