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Court of Appeal upholds section 5 defence

28 February 2012

A horse rider has lost her case in the Court of Appeal against the owner of a horse that bucked violently causing her to be kicked in the face after she was thrown to the ground.

The court ruled that the claimant voluntarily accepted the risk that the horse could buck and so therefore the defence to liability under section 5(2) of the Animals Act 1971 was engaged. It is irrelevant that the horse bucked more violently than had been anticipated. The claimant cannot have consented to bucking but not violent bucking.

This decision follows a recent stream of similar cases where defendants have been found not liable in circumstances whereby the claimant proceeds to engage with the animal knowing of the risk which subsequently eventuates.

With this in mind it is imperative to assess both the knowledge of the claimant in relation to the relevant characteristic of the animal concerned as well as the defendant when faced with an Animals Act claim.

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