In December 2013 the client of SEL bought for his daughter a horse from a Dutch trader, a professional. As stated by the client of SEL the horse showed behavioural problems/a character defect shortly after the delivery. The client of SEL had to stable the horse a few times at different stables with another trainer because the previous ones stated “not to be a cowboy”. The client of SEL had to annul the sale and purchase agreement of the horse. A requirement for annulment is that the horse must suffer from a defect at the time of the sale and purchase that justifies the annulment of the agreement.
According to European Law consumer buyers have an advantage in proof because when the horse shows a defect within 6 months after the delivery, then it is presumed that this defect was already there at the moment of the delivery of the horse (article 7:18 paragraph 2 Dutch Divil Code). This means the consumer buyer only has to prove that the defect revealed itself within 6 months after the delivery, which is much more easy than to prove the defect was there at the time of the delivery.
The question that needed to be answered by the Court as well as by the Court of Appeal was if this legal presumption of proof is also applicable on horses with behavioural problems/character defects.
The Court ruled that this was the case. If the client of SEL can prove that the behavioural problem/character defect revealed itself within 6 months after the delivery, it shall be presumed that this defect was already there at the time of the delivery. Then it is up to the counterparty to prove this was not the case.
The counterparty of SEL immediately appealed against this decision because the counterparty was of the opinion this legal presumption was not applicable on horses with behavioural problems/character defects. After all, behavioural problems/character defects can arise because of a change of stable, management, etc.
The Court of Appeal dismissed the arguments of the counterparty and ruled that this legal presumption is also applicable on horses with behavioural problems/character.
The client of SEL was represented by Mr. L.M. Schelstraete.
Judgment Court of Appeal (only available in Dutch): ECLI:NL:GHARL:2019:146