13 July, 2017
The claimant was a stable boy employed by the defendant. He had been riding a 2 year old colt called "Wolfofwallstreet" in a string of nine race horses along a track beside a road. The horses became spooked causing the horses to whip around. The claimant fell off his horse and hit his head.
The claimant brought a million pound claim under the Animals Act 1971. However, the case was dismissed at first instance as the claimant had failed to satisfy either limb of the test in section 2 (2) Animals Act i.e. that injury had been unlikely, and that if any injury did occur in those circumstances, it was likely to be severe.
At appeal the claimant submitted that it was obvious that if a two-year old racehorse was spooked and whipped around that some form of personal injury might occur; if personal injury was caused as a result of the horse being spooked and whipping around, it might well be severe.
The Judge concluded that there was a sufficient evidential basis to rule that an accident in the instant circumstances was not reasonably to be expected. Furthermore, whilst at first glance it appeared that the judge might have erred, as she had perhaps only considered the first limb of s.2(2)(a) but not the second. However, the judge had emphasised the speed, circumstances and seriousness; that went not only to the likelihood of an injury but to its severity too. In any event, it was for the appellant to prove if an injury occurred and whether it would be severe. The evidence the judge had was that if an injury occurred it was unlikely to be severe. The Judge therefore dismissed the appeal.
People who keep animals whether they are dangerous or non-dangerous animals are under a duty of care to prevent harm to other people by their animals. It is common ground that a horse is not a dangerous animal. Liability under the Animals Act for non dangerous animals is not strict until a claimant makes out the requirements of s.2(2) (a),(b) and (c). For further advice on the application of the Animals Act 1971 or equestrian claims then please contact Elizabeth Bower by email or on 01254 222411.