Professional negligence claims in the equine industry are often particularly emotional – claims will only arise if the health or physical fitness of your beloved new horse has faltered. How do you know if you have been let down by your vet or if you have just been very unlucky?

When instructing a vet to perform a vetting on your potential new horse, you trust them to pick up on any physical impairments or ailments that might affect the value of the horse or your intended use of him. But what if you think the vet missed something that they should have spotted and that you have suffered a financial loss as a result, usually in the form of loss of value of the horse or significant vets fees?

A vet is under a professional and contractual duty to carry out his or her assessment to a reasonable standard. The legal question when considering whether to bring a professional negligence claim against your vet is whether they acted in a way that no other body of veterinary professional opinion would, or that the vet failed to act in an appropriate way. The standard, as in medical negligence claims, is therefore high and difficult to establish.

Stefania Fulford, an equine law specialist in our litigation team, says “an independent veterinary surgeon will need to be instructed to act as an expert to advise on whether a reasonable body of similar veterinary professionals would have diagnosed the problem from the inspection carried out at the vetting. If the expert finds in your favour, you may have reasonable prospects of bringing a successful claim against your vet for professional negligence and it may be worth exploring further.”

If you are concerned by any equine related disputes, whether as a consumer or in the course of a business, contact Stefania by calling 01905 677057 or emailing sfulford@thursfields.co.uk.

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