05 August 2016

Frequently, the owner of the horses can't be identified. This can raise significant animal welfare concerns as the horses may have been effectively abandoned. It is important for landowners to be able to act quickly.  

What can you do?

Speak to Burges Salmon! We are able to work within the Animals Act 1971 and Control of Horses Act 2015, and with specialist bailiffs to remove the horses from your property. This involves: 

  • Placing legal notices prominently around the site, so that they will be visible to anyone entering or exiting. We usually recommend that these notice allow up to seven days' notice of removal as this may encourage an owner who is watching the site to remove his or her horses.
  • Instructing specialist equine impoundment bailiffs to remove the horses, care for them appropriately (including providing vet care) during the waiting period and leave notices on site giving contact details for any owners to come forward and arrange collection. Since the Control of Horses Act 2015 came into force last year the period landowners have to keep any abandoned horses for has been reduced to a minimum of 96 hours (four working days) instead of the more onerous two weeks required previously. 
  • Owners may come forward to collect their horses. If they do, we can work with the bailiffs to recover your impoundment costs. 
  • After the waiting period, if owners have not come forward ownership of the horse(s) passes to you. This means that you may be able to look at obtaining passports for the horses to enable public or private sale (giving you the opportunity to recoup your financial losses from the proceeds), or you may consider giving the horses to charity or having them humanely put down. 

What about Brexit? 

Although we do not anticipate any immediate changes to the current impoundment process as a result of Brexit, there may be an impact in due course if ownership passes to you and you choose to seek new passports to allow for sale. The horse passporting regime is currently underpinned by Commission Regulation EC 504/2008 and, following Brexit, new domestic legislation will be required to deal with passporting issues. It is probable that any new domestic regime will mirror the current process. In any event, those wishing to travel in Europe with their horses are still likely to need to comply with the current EU rules.

For more details contact Kevin Kennedy or Maddie Dunn.


Key contact

Kevin Kennedy

Kevin Kennedy Partner

  • Agricultural Disputes
  • Trust and Probate Disputes
  • Estates and Land

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