EN Today: 72,000 GBP Payout to UK Rider from Owners for Ruined Olympic Dreams
And the moral of this story is: People suck. So. Get. It. In. Writing. Every time.
As the story goes, a UK court awarded British rider Polly Jackson 72,000 GBP (~$113,760) after she sued the owners of her horse Bournston Highland Charm for breaking their commitment to let her ride the horse at the Olympics this year and instead trying to sell the horse. Annie linked to the amazing rider/owner court battle Telegraph article this morning, but the story is so remarkable that I think it deserves a second mention. In a situation that has similarities to the infamous HJ Hampton case, rider Polly Jackson argued that she owned part of the horse because an agreement that the investment she made is caring for and developing the horse would lead to ownership. The agreement was reportedly verbal and the resulting court case started in 2009 according to The Telegraph. The court has awarded “full and sole ownership” of three horses including Highland Charm “Henry,” who was bought for 89,700 GBP in 2006. The legal ownership battle stopped Henry from competing from 2009 through 2011, thus ruining Jackson’s chances of competing in the Olympics and leading to the settlement. The owners, Paul and Christine Kilmister said that they settled because of Paul’s declining health.
There are clearly two sides to this argument and the Telegraph article does not discuss the merits of Polly Jackson’s claim regarding the verbal ownership agreement. My first reaction to this story is that the court had to balance the monetary value of competing at the Olympics with the odds of Polly and Henry competing at the Olympics in 2009. Both of those calculations seem completely impossible. Most of all, this is yet another reminder of the importance of backing up verbal agreements with written contracts and reminds me of the great efforts being made to do just that with syndications by the USEF’s Event Owners Task Force. Riders and owners should never be afraid to ask to back up a verbal agreement with a contract and there is no excuse not to. Let me make a special note that this is very much a story from the UK and of course laws and legal implications very drastically from country to country. Go eventing.
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