Following an extensive investigation, which involved taking statements from more than 30 complainants across the north of England, the Council’s trading standards service has successfully obtained a Civil Enforcement Order against a horse trader operating in the East Riding.
At the Kingston upon Hull County Court on 21 August 2013, His Honour Judge Dowse ordered horse trader Sarah Jane Harrison (also known as Sarah Jane Clarke) to trade fairly. The judge used powers under the Enterprise Act 2002 and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008.
If she disobeys the order Harrison could be held in contempt of court and may be imprisoned or fined. She was ordered to pay the Council’s costs of £2906.48.
Harrison, of Harlthorpe Lodge, Dead Lane, Harlthorpe and previously resident at Highfield Stables, Bursea Lane, Home on Spalding Moor, was the source of numerous complaints made over several years to the trading standards service. The complainants frequently stated that they had bought horses from Harrison described as good natured and suitable for novice riders. These horses then turned out to have very unpredictable characteristics that were often so severe that they were dangerous to ride. In a number of cases, Harrison had also provided misleading information or omitted to give information about the horse’s age and health.
During sales negotiations, Harrison invariably told customers that the horses were sold with a 28 day “no quibble” money back guarantee. When customers became aware that the animals had problems, they would raise them with Harrison who either met them with aggression or in some cases took the horse back and issued the customers with a cheque refund which then ‘bounced,’ leaving them out of pocket.
This civil action has resulted in one of the most effective legal sanctions available to the courts and trading standards. The court order also stipulated that anyone who assists Harrison in the future to trade unfairly could also be held in contempt of court.
Councillor Jackie Cracknell, the council’s portfolio holder for community involvement and performance, said: “The severity in which this order is written shows how seriously the Court has taken the matter. The business practices of this trader put her customers at risk of serious injury and her general business practices are completely unacceptable. The successful civil action brought by the Council’s trading standards shows that we will not tolerate this kind of behaviour in the East Riding of Yorkshire.”
Anyone who has concerns about the activities of Harrison is urged to contact Consumer Direct on 08454 040506.