Private sale of a horse still a consumer purchaseer

A client of Schelstraete Lawyers purchased a horse for €18,000. In a Facebook advertisement, the horse was presented as free of (stable) defects or vices. Six days after delivery, our Client discovered that the horse displayed the stable defect of weaving.

The key question before the Court in this case was whether or not the purchased could be deemed to be a consumer purchase. When considering the factual circumstances of the case, the Court found the following to be relevant in this consideration:

1. The counterparty operated a business professionally engaged in the trade of horses until at least 1 January 2019.

2. The horse was bred and born during the period in which this company was still active. Accordingly, the Court held that the horse was bred with a profit motive. The horses owned by the trading company were transferred to the counterparty on 1 January 2019. The counterparty thereafter continued the breeding and trading of horses in his own name. In this context, the Court ruled that it had not been stated or demonstrated that these horses were intended for personal use. Therefore, according to the Court, the keeping of these horses was not of a hobby nature.

In light of the above, the Court ruled that the counterparty had failed to substantiate, or at least insufficiently substantiated, its claim that the sale of the horse was only of a hobby nature. Furthermore, the Court found that the fact that the Tax and Customs Administration has held that the counterparty does not meet the requirements for entrepreneurship with regard to its equine activities was insufficient to assume that the sale of the horse should not be regarded as part of the exercise of a profession or business. Finally, the Court ruled that although the remittance of VAT on the sale could be of importance to the judgement that there was a commercial sale, the non-payment thereof is no indication to the contrary.
The Court’s conclusion was that this was a consumer purchase and therefore it was assumed that the horse did not comply with the agreement at the time of delivery until the other party has proved otherwise.

Client was assisted by Irma Uwe-Ntukabumwe.

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