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Mirvahedy v Henley, Court of Appeal

3 December 2001
The issues

RTA – Animal Act 1971 Section 2

The facts

The Claimant sued for damages for personal injuries when his car collided with a horse belonging to the Defendants. The horse had escaped from its field during the night breaking through an electric fence, a barbed wire fence and undergrowth. The horse with two other horses in the same field had got onto the A380. One of them crashed into the Claimants car causing damage and serious personal injuries. The Judge at first instance found that the horses had escaped because of some unknown event that had caused them to panic and trample the fences and posts that would otherwise have been adequate for keeping in normal horses. He found no negligence.

He found no liability under Section 2(2) Animal Act 1971 because the damage had been caused by the presence of the horses on the road, rather by any abnormal or unusual characteristics they displayed.

The decision

1. The accident had been caused by the particular characteristics of the horses once they had escaped having been terrified for some reason or another.

2. The damage had been caused because they had been behaving in an unusual way.

3. Section 2(2b) of the Animal Act did cover temporary characteristics, which were normal to the breed in those circumstances. Parliament had intended such places be covered by the Act.

4. The animals keeper Section 2(2c) had to have knowledge of the characteristics but not of the circumstances. It was enough if they knew the horses could behave in that way if they were frightened or panicked.

Appeal allowed.

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The content on this page is provided for the purposes of general interest and information. It contains only brief summaries of aspects of the subject matter and does not provide comprehensive statements of the law. It does not constitute legal advice and does not provide a substitute for it.

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