Equine law

Eventer settles legal battle out of court

Reported by Horse & Hound last week was the out of court settlement reached between eventer, Polly Jackson, and Paul and Christine Kilmister.

The claim centered on a broken verbal agreement by the Kilmisters that Jackson could compete their Olympic hopeful horse, Bournston Highland Charm’s (stable name ‘Henry’), until after the Olympics.

The case was settled the day before it was due to be heard at Birmingham High Court with the Kilmisters paying Jackson £72,000 and transferring full ownership of Henry to Jackson.

Henry was bought in 2006 for £77,172 by the Kilmisters as an Olympic hopeful for Jackson to ride with a view to 2012 qualification.

In May 2008 the Kilmisters stopped paying livery bills for Henry upon a verbal agreement that Jackson claimed gave her a half share of ownership of Henry.

The dispute arose when the Kilmisters found new buyers for Henry in 2009 who wanted to move him and so Jackson had no choice but to bring a breach of contract claim against the Kilmisters.  Sadly, due to the dispute Jackson was prevented from competing Henry since 2009 ruling out 2012 qualification.

This is a prime example of a friendly verbal agreement going wrong and as with all verbal agreements it can be very difficult to prove who said what.  We advise everyone to have a suitable written contract in place from the word go.  Minimal cost at the beginning of a joint partnership with a horse ensures both parties know where they stand in the event of dispute!  Unfortunately, so many transactions in the horse world are still done on trust and on a handshake.  At the end of the day they are business transactions and should be treated no differently.