During the pandemic the purchase of horses unseen increased substantially due to the inability to physically view horses for various reasons. Notwithstanding, buying horses unseen is a relatively common theme in the equine world with lots of owners buying directly from Ireland (primarily) in the hope of securing a decent Irish Draught or Connemara for a bargain price.
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 came into force on 13 June 2014 and govern all distance sales taking place from that date onwards, including the sale of equines.
When you buy at a "distance", for example online or over the telephone, you have additional rights than those granted to you when buying from a shop (or a dealer in the case of horses). Generally, if you have bought a horse from a dealer, you will have protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (please follow this link to read our blog on this topic).
What must the trader inform me of?
Under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, there is certain key information which the dealer must provide including a description of the horse, the total purchase price, any delivery costs, details of any rights to cancel and details of who pays the cost of returning the item if you change your mind (particularly important with horses due to the cost of transporting them).
What are my additional rights?
When you buy a horse unseen, under the Consumer Contracts Regulations, in addition to protection under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you are entitled to a 14 day cooling off period within which you can opt to return the horse, for no specific reason, and you are entitled to a full refund.
The 14 day cooling off period begins from the moment you "place your order" and ends 14 days from the day that you receive your horse. Depending on where your horse is located and how long transport takes, this may afford you more than 14 days in reality. You then have a further 14 days to actually return the horse (which can assist in the event of transport issues and depending on the distance between the seller's yard and your horse's current yard). The dealer then has 14 days from receiving the horse (and/ or receiving evidence that the horse has left your yard, whichever is soonest) to provide you with a full refund.
What if I bought my horse from outside of England/ Wales?
If your horse was purchased from a trader outside of the jurisdiction of England and Wales, you will need to ascertain what laws are applicable to the contract (usually set out in the dealer's terms and conditions). If you are yet to buy your horse, buying your horse outside of England and Wales could be a red flag as you may not be protected by the above provisions.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.