An alternative business structure has been launched in Cheshire, specialising entirely in horse-related legal work.
Julia Kuczera, a trainee solicitor and director of Horse Legal, said most of the work at the moment involving the buying and selling of horses.
“There are solicitors who already deal with these cases, but many of them don’t have a clue about horses.
“They may have had a riding lesson, but they don’t see them as living, breathing animals.”
Ms Kuczera said one of her fellow directors at Horse Legal, launched last month, was Alisha Lamb, the owner of a riding school and an unregistered barrister. Ms Lamb also works as an expert witness, specialising in the valuation of horses.
She said the other director, Shirley Fitton, was an experienced solicitor and animal lover. Ms Fitton is the compliance officer for legal practice and for finance and administration at the firm.
In her case, Ms Kuczera said she owned and rode horses, having come to England as a student from Poland in 2012 and studied law at Liverpool John Moores University.
She said novice riders often “fall in love with horses” but find that they cannot handle them, leading to disputes with sellers.
Apart from buying and selling, other kinds of work handled by the ABS includes negligence by vets, disputes over livery bills or a construction dispute involving a riding school.
Horse Legal offers clients three kinds of monthly subscriptions – bronze for individuals, silver for livery yards and riding schools, and gold for horse dealers and agents. Prices range from £20 per month for individuals to £50 per month for dealers.
The aim was that, rather than clients coming to the firm after an issue or a dispute, they “come on board at the beginning”, preventing issues from arising in the first place.
She said the firm was “very keen to be transparent about fees” and always told clients upfront.
The ABS was careful to limit the number of memberships it took on every month. She said the existing team included a paralegal and administrator, and the plan was to expand by recruiting two more solicitors.
Horse Legal also wanted to open an office on the Wirral, which would probably happen early next year. The firm sponsors dressage rider and trainer Mat Burnett, who has his own livery yard.
Ms Kuczera said she believed the current law was “very harsh” in the way it treated horses as objects and was hoping next year to contribute to a debate on how this could be changed.