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Animal instincts

A Lords decision on liability for damage caused by a horse has serious implications for owners of all non-dangerous animals, say Angus McNicol and Kelvin Farmaner

25 April 2003

Hossein Mirvahedy’s claim arose from a car accident on 28 August 1996. Liability was contested from the start. Mirvahedy (M) suffered serious injuries. In June 1999, DJ Crosse in the Exeter County Court ruled the issue of liability should be tried as a preliminary issue to save the costs of a hearing on quantum if liability was decided against M. Judgment was given by HHJ O’Malley on 17 August 2000 against M and he therefore appeared to have lost his right to compensation. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision in November 2001. The House of Lords upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision in its judgment of 20 March 2003 (Mirvahedy v Henley [2003] UKHL 16; (2003) 147 sj 352, 28 March). Facts of the case M was a hotel manager working in South Devon. Shortly after midnight on the night of 28/29 August 1996, he was driving home from work in his Volkswagen Polo along a dual carriageway stretch of the A380 from Torquay to Exeter. His car collided with a horse whic...

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