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Selling a horse in 3 questions: Contract, Trial, Veterinary?

Do I need a sales contract to sell a horse? Is a veterinary visit required before the sale? Is it necessary to test the horse? What are the legal precautions to be taken during the trial?

1. Do I need a sales contract?

Under French law, the sale of an item requires a written contract. However, in some areas, practice is quite different. In equine sales, oral practice is such that it reverses the trend. Sales are generally made without a written contract.

Sales contracts: not compulsory, but strongly recommended

The law does not require a written contract of sale to be valid. And although practice generally favors sales without a written contract, we strongly advise you to draw up one.

A written contract is essential to provide proof in the event of a dispute or conflict.

Is the horse not as advertised by the seller? Would you like the sales contract to be declared null and void? In this case, a written sales contract will enable you to prove that the horse does not conform to what was advertised.

What should be included in the sales contract?

As with any contract of sale, you must include :

  • the parties’ full names, addresses and telephone numbers
  • the role of each party in the sale, specifying whether they are professionals or amateurs (the guarantees are not the same)
  • price amount
  • terms of payment
  • the law applicable to the sale

If the item being sold is a horse, make sure the contract specifies :

  • the horse’s qualities and characteristics
  • medical history
  • full identification of the horse: SIRE number (Système d’Identification Répertoriant les Équidés), description booklet, name, age, etc.
  • use and destination of the horse: competition, discipline and level, leisure… (the level of your coverage depends in part on these details)
  • guarantees to which the seller is committed: redhibitory defects, hidden defects and guarantee of good conformity if the seller is a professional
  • delivery time

Some of these elements, such as the horse’s destination, are essential to provide solid evidence in the event of a dispute. If you wish to cancel the sale of a horse intended for equestrian sport, you need to prove the horse’s intended purpose. If you cannot prove it, the contract cannot be declared null and void on this point.

Read our article on this subject.

2. Is it necessary to carry out a trial?

As with the question of whether a written contract should be used, it should be pointed out that it is not mandatory to test the horse. However, before finally concluding the sale, the buyer will often want to take the horse for a test ride to check that it meets their expectations.

Warning: a trial does not constitute a sale

What are the legal precautions to be taken during the trial?

Remember that when you precede the sale with a trial, the sale will be considered concluded provided the buyer is satisfied with the trial.

You are not obliged to specify in writing that you are proceeding with the trial. However, once again, we advise you to specify this in writing, as the trial is not presumed and must be proven in the event of a dispute.

It is customary to set the length of the trial period at 8 days, but you can stipulate a different duration in the contract. Be precise: length of trial period, location, accommodation conditions, etc.

What is the buyer’s responsibility during the trial period?

During the trial period, the buyer is considered to have custody of the horse. The buyer is therefore responsible for any damage the horse may suffer or cause during this period.

3. Is a veterinary visit required?

A veterinary inspection is to horse sales what a roadworthiness test is to car sales. It is not compulsory, but strongly recommended.

The veterinary visit: strongly recommended

When you have a veterinary visit carried out, you’re showing due diligence and you can subsequently ask for the sale to be cancelled if the horse’s condition doesn’t correspond to the observations made by the veterinarian.

The purpose of this visit is to establish the general condition of the horse: check the main characteristics and identity of the horse, observe its general condition, carry out locomotor examinations, radiology tests, blood tests, etc.

We recommend that you require the seller to carry out this visit before the sale, and to provide you with the veterinarian’s report.

The veterinary’s responsibility

You should be aware that the veterinarian must use all necessary means to reach a reliable conclusion about the horse’s state of health. This is called an obligation of means. In addition, the veterinarian has an obligation to inform you.

He is not obliged to detect every possible defect in the horse, but he does bear a heavy responsibility. For example, you can hold the veterinarian liable if the horse is in a poorer state of health than that stated in the veterinarian’s report, and this anomaly is the result of an error in the interpretation of an X-ray, or of an omission on their part.

Do you have further questions about selling a horse? Would you like to buy a horse? Would you like advice on the purchase of a horse?

Contact us and an equine law expert from the AGN Avocats network will meet with you!

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