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Ford –v- Seymour-Williams

Tuesday 30th November 2021

The Claimant appeals with permission from Michael Kent QC sitting as a Deputy High Court Judge his order dated 19 February 2021 by which he dismissed the claim and ordered that the Claimant pay the Defendant’s costs.

The Claimant, now aged 42, is an experienced horsewoman. On 15 September 2018, at a time when she was employed as a groom by the Defendant, she was on Tommy, a chestnut gelding hunter of 16.1 hands aged about 19, when she suffered severe injuries as a result of the horse rearing and falling on top of her. She was at the time attending a cubbing or pre-season autumn meet of the Duke of Beaufort’s Hounds at Badminton. She sued her former employer claiming damages for her injuries and consequential losses under the strict liability rule in section 2 (2) of the Animals Act 1971. She made no allegation of negligence.  The Defendant’s case is that on the day of the accident the Claimant was riding Tommy for her own enjoyment and not doing so as part of her duties as a groom employed by him.

Michael Kent QC found that the Claimant was in fact acting in the course of her employment at the time of the accident. He further found that, in rearing up as he did, the horse was likely reacting to a catastrophic internal injury. He further found that the Defendant as Tommy’s keeper did not have any relevant knowledge of this as something which gives rise to the particular characteristic (rearing) that caused the injury in this case and as such, the Claimant could not satisfy the requirements of section 2 (2) of the Animals Act 1971.

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