17 December 2015

The trials and tribulations of horse box conversions

For the horse lovers amongst us, how often do you find yourself attracted by the prospect of a shiny ‘new’ custom-built horsebox? Assured that it will be built to the highest standard and quality, you commission a company or an individual to carry out the work for you, from sourcing a lorry to designing bespoke features specifically for your horse or finding a painter to put your own stamp on your very own custom-built horse box.

After all your creative input, you wait for delivery to put your new custom-built horse box to use, only to discover that the roof leaks, the steel ramp is inadequate, the bespoke features installed simply do not work or the pre-requisite unladen weight is incorrect.

However disheartening, all is not lost and you should be aware that under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, every contract (whether written or oral) to supply a service is to be treated as including the term that the trader must perform the service with reasonable care and skill.

This includes the workmanship carried out on your horsebox conversion. If you have commissioned a company or individual to carry out work, but find that it is simply not up to standard, then you may have a claim for a breach of contract, whether the contract expressly provides that the service will be carried out with reasonable care and skill or not.

The general rule for damages for a breach of contract is to put the claimant in the position as if the contract had been performed satisfactorily, i.e. with reasonable care and skill. Damages can therefore be awarded for the profits that you would have expected to receive had the contract been performed, less the costs it would have incurred to earn that profit or wasted expenditure; the latter includes the cost of repair.

As with purchasing a horse from a business seller, the Act will impose implied terms that the horse box must be of satisfactory quality and be fit for the purpose it is intended. If these terms are breached, then the purchaser is likely to be able to reject the horse box and claim a full refund from the seller. However, the purchaser will still need to provide supporting evidence for their case, particularly if the seller disputes it, and this may be difficult to prove when the specifications are not in writing initially or where they are not incorporated into a sale agreement.

Of course, care should always be taken to find a reputable company/individual for your horse-box conversion. However, if you do encounter any of these problems and think you have a claim, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our specialist equine team who are happy to help.

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About the Author
Alison Goodwin, Partner
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Alison Goodwin is a Hereford solicitor, specialising in equine.

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