Solicitor, Bridge Law Solicitors, Cheshire.
I remember at primary school going on a trip to the courts. I was fascinated by how the law regulated behaviour. I went home and said, ‘Daddy I want to be a solicitor’ (much to his dismay).
I took a gap year after A-levels and worked in a law firm in my home town of Harrogate. While at university I was also a paralegal in a large dispute resolution team in Manchester. By the time I qualified I had over six years’ litigation experience. This gave me the confidence to open my own equine law department and run my own team at the first opportunity.
I have had horses all my life. I know that disputes often arise in the equine community. It is difficult for a lay person to understand what sort of solicitor they need to resolve their dispute, especially one who understands complex equine terminology.
I was extremely lucky as a newly qualified solicitor to be allowed to open my own department and manage my own team. I saw an opportunity and my firm encouraged me to progress the idea further.
When people buy or sell a horse they often require a written sales agreement to be drafted. They can be wrongly drafted by a lay person, resulting in claims being brought for misrepresentation or breach of contract.
Many horses are kept at livery yards which attract substantial monthly payments. People can often fall behind on payments, so debt recovery can be significant. Professional negligence can arise from the actions of vets, farriers and other professionals unique to the community. Specialist knowledge is needed to ensure full recovery of some unusual losses arising from stud fees, eventing and so on.
Winning my first case during my gap year was certainly a memorable moment, but so was being involved in the creation of a fantastic new firm. Our opening evening was a huge success. Solicitors, barristers, judges and clients joined us to celebrate.
I don’t particular dislike any law, but the pre-action protocol for professional negligence cases is in need of amendment. The intention to encourage settlement is just not being achieved. Instead, potential defendants often exhaust the three-month period of time before providing a response defending the claim in its entirety and no offer of settlement is made.
I hope that the cases I have at the moment will lead the way in shaping basic breach of contract principles, in particular those equine disputes involving ‘sold as seen’ agreements.
I am blown away by the volume of work this area of law attracts, so much so I look forward to opening additional branches in the near future to accommodate our growing team. Watch this space.