Purchasing a horse can be a risky matter. Unfortunately there are some people who are unethical and will attempt to lure in by a buyer by over-selling. When purchasing a horse, there is often a reliance by the buyer on the seller for accurate and complete information regarding the quality and suitability of the horse. Afterall, the buyer has limited time to view the horse, whereas a seller has more in-depth knowledge of the horse.
Legal issues that could arise in the purchase and sale of a horse could be due to misrepresentation, undisclosed information, fraud and breach of contract.
Warranty and Conditions
A condition is a contractual obligation placed on a party and is set out in the contract. A warranty is a promise made which is not a condition of the contract. If a condition is breached, then rescission of the contract is an available remedy. However, this is not the case for a breach of a warranty. It can be difficult to differentiate between a warranty or a condition and it could come down to the importance of the statement, to the extent that if not for the statement you would not have entered into a contract for the purchase of the horse.
This occurs when the seller makes a false representation (orally, written or by conduct) about the horse to induce you into buying the horse. There are some requirements for a claim in misrepresentation, the first of which is that the misrepresentation is one of fact, it is made directly to you and it induces the contract to purchase the horse. For example, a misrepresentation would be a seller telling you the horse has no major vices, when in fact the horse has a severe windsucking problem. Note that there is a difference between misrepresentation and non-communication.
Unfortunately, fraud in the equine sales industry happens frequently and is important to be aware of it. Fraud is a dishonesty offence and therefore requires proof that the seller knew, or should have known, that the horse had problems but either hid them or lied about them to sell the horse for your money. For example, if a horse with temperament issues was heavily medicated when you viewed it.
Breach of Contract
A contract could be breached in many ways, such as by breaching a warranty or condition, misrepresentation and fraud. Depending on the type of breach a range of remedies may be available from rescission of contract to an award in damages.
Consumer Protection Laws
Commonwealth and State laws aim to combat consumer fraud and deceptive sales practices and protect both the buyer and seller in purchase and sale disputes. The Australian Consumer Law and Sale of Goods Act (Qld) 1896 are available in Queensland.
If you would like more information regarding equine law and purchase and sale disputes, please don’t hesitate to contact Equilegal.