1917 court: Horse bought in good faith is unfit for work

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At the Malton County Court his Honour, Judge Fossett Lock, heard an adjourned claim for £62, the value of a mare, which, it was alleged, was not sound as warranted, and £3 11s 6d for keeping the animal and veterinary surgeon’s fees, less £26, the amount for which it was subsequently sold. The plaintiff was Mr WJ Wilson, of Home Farm, Kirbymisperton, a breeder and exhibitor of hackneys, and the defendant Mr Riby, farmer, Wykeham. Plaintiff was represented by Mr Lockwoood (Hull) instructed by Mr Arthur Kitching (solicitor, Pickering), while Mr Atkinson, from the office of Mr Arthur Willey (Leeds), appeared for the defendant.

Mr Lockwood, in opening the case for the plaintiff, said that when Mr Wilson examined the mare at Wykeham, prior to purchasing it, he noticed a slight discharge from the nose. He asked defendant if the mare had cold, and Mr Riby replied: “Not that I am aware of.” Mr Wilson then asked Mr Riby if he had any illness about the place, and defendant replied: “No, the mare is absolutely alright; if she ails anything it is just a bit of a cold.” That was the warranty which plaintiff relied on.

When plaintiff and his man arrived to take the mare away it was found that there was a bad discharge from the nostrils, and there was an awful smell. A veterinary surgeon who examined the animal stated that it was suffering from nasal gleet. The animal was sent to a horse mart, where it was sold for £26.

The plaintiff, Mr WJ Wilson, said he occupied Home Farm, Kirbymisperton. He went to the defendant’s farm to see the mare about which the claim was made. Defendant asked £72 for the mare, and as it was a “stiff” price witness did not then purchase the animal, but promised to call later in the day. He eventually purchased the animal for £62.

Mr Fred Lakin, a Pickering horse dealer, and buyer of entire horses for the French Government, corroborated the evidence given by Mr Wilson.

Mr C Aggion, MCVS, Malton, described the disease from which the mare was suffering as one of long standing.

Mr Riby then gave evidence, and said that he was perfectly sure that he never told the plaintiff that the mare was sound. He remembered saying, in reply to a question by Mr Wilson, that the animal was a good worker and also that she might be suffering from a cold. As far as he knew the mare was perfectly sound. Defendant’s statement was corroborated by his waggoner, who was present when the sale took place.

Mr Atkinson contended that a warranty was not given.

His Honour said that while he completely exonerated Mr Riby of any dishonest or wrong action, he had formed the opinion that a warranty was given, whether knowingly or otherwise, and that there was a breach of it. He entirely disagreed with the view held by many people in Yorkshire that the price of an animal was a warranty.

He gave a verdict for the plaintiff for £36 10s and costs for that day only.