Amendment to law for horse sales highlights the importance of equine law knowledge

The Swedish Parliament’s Committee on Civil Affairs has decided that the Consumer Sales Act must be amended regarding the sale of live animals.
“Trading in animals is always a specialised area, but with horses, you have the professional sports angle – where one animal could ruin an entire career if it fails to meet expectations. On the other hand, sellers need to be able to confidently sell to individual buyers without running the risk of severe economic consequences. These transactions may entail substantial investments in a product subject to change. In other words, a significant amount of money with a high level of complexity and risk,” says Cecilia Tholse-Rogmark, one of the Gulliksson partners actively engaged in equine law.

The proposal was put forward by a Member of Parliament from the Moderate Party along with the Alliance parties in the Committee on Civil Affairs and a majority was secured for the proposed revision of the law. The aim is to safeguard the horses and other animals that risk harm during the interim period when the processes between buyer and seller are ongoing. In brief, the Consumer Sales Act, which applies to transactions between businesses or sole traders and individuals, poses a risk to the seller because it stipulates that a product can be returned if it shows evidence of a latent defect within three years of purchase. For the first six months after the purchase, the burden of proof is on the seller to prove that the defect did not exist before the purchase was made. The seller may be liable for the buyer’s costs if they fail to prove that the product was free of defects when sold. The Consumer Sales Act is mandatory, which means that it cannot be contracted away between the buyer and seller to the detriment of the buyer. The Sale of Goods Act applies to sales between two equal parties, as in business to business or individual to individual transactions, and has a limitation period of two years for latent defects, but the buyer must prove that the defect existed prior to the sale. In contrast to the Consumer Sales Act, the Sale of Goods Act is non-mandatory and thus may be contracted away.

“Personally, I have sometimes felt that transactions related to equestrian sports and businesses have not been taken seriously enough, which is surprising considering their size. I welcome the revision of the law on trading in live animals. In addition to the health and wellbeing of the animals, this business involves substantially high values, greater complexity and an increasing number of international transactions,” says Cecilia Tholse-Rogmark, who recommends always seeking legal expertise when buying or selling a horse of substantial value.

Gulliksson provides advice in all areas of business law, including a team with vast equine industry knowledge who can provide advice and specialised expertise in equine law.
Equine law is not only part of the civil law governing issues relating to sales and damages, but also it encompasses areas such as labour law, contract law, company law, mergers and acquisitions, property law and construction law. Gulliksson handles all types of business disputes, from those settled in general and administrative courts to authorities and arbitration tribunals. We represent clients who are in negotiations, court procedures, arbitration procedures, mediation, international dispute resolution and alternative dispute settlement.

“We follow the legislative changes in equine law with great interest and are experienced in processes which extend beyond Sweden’s borders.”

More background information about the proposal can be found in Swedish on the Swedish Horse Industry Foundation (HNS) website. The proposal will be voted on in the near future.