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Here are the facts of my case.

P (Plaintiff) rides her horse into town. P decides to stop at D’s (Defendant) grocery store. In D’s car park she ties the horse to a pole, where there is also a bicycle. P doesn’t notice the red sign above the space where the horse is standing. This says:

‘Free two hour parking for all customers when they shop at D’s: D’s accepts no liability for any loss to customers, howsoever caused.’

While P is shopping, D’s employees spray the area around the pole with disinfectant, which causes the horse to die. When P complains, D draws her attention to D's sign and tells P that D is not liable to pay P any damages for P's loss.

  1. I called Citizens Advice. A solicitor advised me that CRA 2015 s 65 (Bar on exclusion or restriction of negligence liability) doesn’t prevent exclusion of liability for the death of P's horse. Why not?

  2. What exactly did D breach? I'm guessing CRA s 49 (Service to be performed with reasonable care and skill)?

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  • Have you asked the solicitor to explain their reasoning? My reading of liability under s.65 is that it is limited to the death of a natural person; not horses. If it were so, surely the Act would include references to damage caused negligently to personal property. Also, there are other avenues for redress besides the 2015 Act. – Rock Ape May 12 at 8:54
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    At worst, this is animal cruelty and destruction of property. To the law, horses are things. – Trish May 12 at 9:38
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Your right to have your horse not be killed is not a consumer right. "Consumer rights" are rights that you only have because you are a consumer. The issue described in the question is not about consumer rights.

The sign tells you that there are risks connected to using the car park (obviously because there are lots of cars driving around, there might even be car thieves), and you accepted these risks. It doesn't give the shop permission to do anything they like. Instead of a horse, imagine a shop worker walking around with a hammer and smashing windscreens of cars; that sign isn't going to protect them. But a shop worker collecting trolleys might accidentally bump into your car, and the sign might protect them in such a case.

I'd say spraying chemicals strong enough to kill a horse shouldn't happen at all (I suppose these chemicals could also kill a human), and definitely not when there is actually a horse present. To me, it's closer to the employee with a hammer than to the employee with shopping trolleys, so a court should find the shop liable.

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    It is possible these chemicals are totally safe for people, but not horses. The store's lawyer could argue that they could never have foreseen someone would bring a horse and that these chemicals are dangerous to horses. I bring this up because I don't want the OP to get the idea that this is a slam-dunk win. They could lose. – Ryan_L May 12 at 16:05
  • Yes, you're right. I don't know about horses, but you likely eat things every day that will be bad for a dog. Chocolate for example. All depends on the details. – gnasher729 May 12 at 22:32
  • @user52144 "Your right" above is correct, here it means "the right that you have", not "you are correct". – David Siegel May 30 at 14:14

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