Buyer Beware: What are your rights if you buy animals which are not 'as described'?
The buying and selling of farm animals through marts has undergone some change over the years and it is well worth knowing the legal implications attached to the sale of animals under specific descriptions such as 'breeding heifers', 'in calf heifers', 'breeding bulls'..
Consumer law doesn't apply to the sale of livestock. Instead, the rules which apply to the sale of farm animals are the 'normal' rules of contract law.
Essentially, the buyer and seller are bound by the terms and conditions of the sale. The difficulty with the sale of animals at marts is that there is often no conversation between the buyer and seller and it is very difficult to establish the actual terms and conditions of the sale.
Case law in Ireland has established that if you describe an animal in a particular way to the purchaser and if the animal does not meet that description after the sale, the seller has effectively breached the contract.
The purchaser is entitled to seek the return of the purchase price and also to get compensation for expenses incurred such as the feeding of the animal since the time of sale. This is called recission of the contract.
Difficulties often arise in cases where the purchaser of the animal only discovers that the animal is not as described some time after the purchase has taken place.
For example, if a farmer buys a 'breeding bull' and feeds him and keeps him in good condition for a number of months before discovering that the bull is in fact infertile, then the question arises as to whether he is entitled to compensation for the amount of money he spent in keeping the animal and the potential loss of profits which he would have made had animals gone in calf etc.