Complete the form below to ask us a question or make an enquiry. We’ll get back to you via phone or email as soon as possible.

Insights

Control of Horses Act 2015 comes into effect

Posted on 01st June 2017 in Rural Property & Countryside Matters, Dispute Resolution

Posted by

Jill Headford

Partner and Solicitor
Control of Horses Act 2015 comes into effect

A new law is now available to tackle the problem of fly-grazing in England (other, recently passed laws apply in Wales). The grazing of horses (which includes mules, asses and hinnies) on private or public land without permission has been a serious problem for land owners for some years. According to animal welfare charities it involves around 3,000 horses across the country at any one time.

The Control of Horses Act 2015 amends the Animals Act 1971. Previously, anyone finding horses abandoned on their land had to wait 14 days before they could “dispose” of them by sale at market or public auction.  Frequently the owner would reclaim them at the last minute only to dump them again.  However, as of 26 May 2015, the Control of Horses Act 2015 has brought about significant legal changes in favour of landowners and local authorities.

Under the 2015 Act –

  • A landowner who finds a horse in his field without permission, whether through straying or dumping, can insist on keeping it for 96 hours provided he gives notice to a police station and the owner of the horse (if known) within the first 24 hours.
  • The owner of the horse has 96 hours from the time of detention to collect the horse, failing which ownership of the horse passes to the landowner. This is a radical change in the law. Once the four days are up the land owner can either sell or dispose of the horse in any manner he chooses.  This could mean the horse being sold for profit or slaughter or even destroyed.
  • The horse owner is liable to the landowner for any damage the horse does to his land or property as well as any expenses the landowner incurs whilst detaining or disposing of the horse.
  • A landowner detaining a horse under the Act has a duty to treat it with reasonable care which specifically includes providing adequate food and water and in any case has a general obligation to ensure that its welfare needs are met.
  • The person detaining the horse can be liable in damages to the horse owner if he fails to treat it with reasonable care.
  • Local authorities have similar powers in respect of public land including common land, town or village greens and highways or highway verges.

Some may think that 4 days is a very short period of time for the owner to reclaim their horse before losing ownership, especially when part of it may have elapsed before the owner is notified, if notified at all.  Horses will normally be checked daily but one situation where injustice to the owner is foreseeable, is where a horse on temporary loan is allowed to stray.  If the loaner fails to act in time and if the owner is unaware of the situation and so does nothing, the horse will become the property of the landowner.

All horse owners in England need to be aware of the Control of Horses Act 2015 and understand that if their horse should stray and not be reclaimed within 4 days then they may lose ownership of it altogether and even find that it has been destroyed.

Since a police station has to be notified and will presumably put such notifications straight onto a national register, it will be crucial for the owner of a missing horse to contact the police immediately and microchipping may well prove to be a highly valuable means of urgent proof of identification in addition to the immediate production of an up to date passport.

Company & Industry

Related Insights

Insights

GDPR after Brexit

Posted on 27th February 2020 in Intellectual Property

Post Brexit and during the transition period of the withdrawal agreement the GDPR will continue to apply in the UK.

Posted by

Dan Griffin

Associate and Solicitor
Insights

Protection from Domestic Abuse

Posted on 21st February 2020 in Family Law

According to the Office of National Statistics in the year ending March 2019, 1.6 million women and 786,000 men experienced domestic abuse. The number of women and girls killed in England and Wales had also risen to its highest level in 14 years with a 10% increase having been documented. Between March 2018 and March 2019 there were 241 recorded female victims of murder, manslaughter and infanticide with 48% of those victims being killed in a domestic homicide, and 38% of those victims being killed at the hands of their partner or ex-partner.

Posted by

Sarah Miller

Associate Member of CILEx