29 August 2008 17:28
I have a verbal agreement with someone who shares my horse that says she must pay vets’ fees for any illness the horse has while in her care. She says this isn’t reasonable. Who’s right?
By Your Horse
Solicitor Martin Pate replies:
Initially, this is a question of principal.
It is reasonable for the sharer to be responsible for any injuries and subsequent veterinary bills your horse has while in her care. However, problems can arise when the vet’s fees stem from a physiological problem relating to illness or injury,which could be separated from the period of loan.
As for the law – the agreement you have is verbal and therefore not documented. If it were challenged in court, the judge’s decision would be based on evidence from both you and the sharer.
The judge would have to decide whose version of events he prefers, what the vet’s fees relate to, and if they were caused by any one party’s actions.
You may have a claim of negligence against the sharer if the vet’s fees arose as a result of poor management or care.
Veterinary bills can be several thousand pounds, so it is wise to have an equine insurance policy in place. It would also be sensible for you to have
a legal document for the share of your horse to deal with any situations that may arise. The document would initially set out the agreement reached between you both with specific clauses dealing with different concerns. These would include the sum of money the sharer is required to pay for the share of your horse, the times when she can ride him, her responsibilities under the agreement, disciplines she can and cannot take part in and any veterinary fees she is liable for.
The agreement can be as detailed or as brief as you wish, and can save a lot of heartache, expense and potential litigation.