Dutch & European Consumer Law in Equine sales

For professional sellers and private buyers it can be of great importance to know if the sale of a horse is regarded as a consumer sale. If this is the case there is a good chance the buyer is protected as a consumer under the European regulations and national consumer laws.


Often sales agreements contain a jurisdiction clause. Such a clause however can be nullified. According to article 19 of the European regulation Brussel I bis, a choice of jurisdiction is only valid if the choice is made after the conflict has started or if the consumer is given the oppertunity to bring the case to another court or if both consumer and seller were living in the same country at the moment the sale was completed.

Applicable law

According to the European regulation Rome I, the apllicable law is the law of the country of the seller. However according to article 6 of the regulation, the law of the country of the consumer is applicable if the seller is a professional horse dealer who pursues and directs his activities in the country of the buyer or other member states.  If for instance, the professional seller uses a website in which he or she refers to selling horses all over the world, including the country of the buyer, if the website allows customers from different countries to respond and the seller advertises his activities in the country of the buyer, this might be proof of the fact that the seller directs his or her activities to buyers abroad giving these buyers consumer protection.

Dutch consumer law

Dutch consumer law states that if the seller can prove that the horse has a defect which has been revealed or diagnosed within six months after the sale then it is suspected that the horse had the defect at the moment of the sale and the seller will have to prove that the horse did not have the defect at the moment of the sale. So in that case the burden of proof lies with the seller, unless this would not be fair because of the type of defect (this is not very often the case however). The buyer  needs to complain about the defect in due time. According to Dutch consumer  law the buyer will have complained in due time if the complaint was done within two months after the buyer discovers that the horse had a defect that makes the horse not suitable for the purpose it was bought for.

If a consumer does not complain within two months after discovery the court will have to consider all circumstances of the case and decide if the seller was put at a disadvantage because the complaint was done later. If the court decides the buyer complained too late the buyer could lose the right to claim damages.


Depending on the aspects of your case different rules may appl. Not one case is the same. If you are selling a horse or buying a horse abroad just make sure you are aware of the legal pitfalls and that it could be very wise to obtain legal advice in advance.