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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Hi, I have a question regarding a cat I sold for breeding around

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Hi, I have a question regarding a cat I sold for breeding around a year ago. The person who bought it is threatening to take me to small claims court for the £3000 she paid as she claims the cat has been mated twice and hasn't got pregnant. I've offered to replace the cat with a kitten or have it put to my proven stud for free. I did point out that no guarantees are given as there are not test that can prove a cat is fertile as a kitten. Also that if she gave a medication to stop the cat calling, it's entirely possible it has effected the fertility as this happened to a girl I had. She claims she doesn't trust me (I've give no grounds I can see for this attitude though) and is therefore going to take it to court. I'm not prepared to refund just on her say so that the cat can't get pregnant. I think I'm being reasonable in trying to resolve the matter and I don't think she is. I am really worried she may take it to court and I don't have the money to repay her. I'd really hate to get a CCJ against me. Please can you advise me how to handle the situation?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.

Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.

Are you asking if she has a claim?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes. I did have a contract in place but it didn't set out terms of what to do if the cat was infertile.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
What this sold as a breeding tom?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


The contract didn't specifically state this was a breeding Queen, but it allows breeding as there is a clause that states no breeding kittens to be sold from the cat for 2 years (my pet contracts specifically state that they are not allowed to be bred with). The purchaser's intention was to breed with the kitten and I knew that when I sold her as she paid extra for the paperwork to allow the cat to be bred with.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Thanks.

The difficulty with this is a double edged sword really.

I have to say that I am not confident that breeding restrictions would stand up in law. A cat is an item of property. However much our animals mean to us, it is no different in law to any other commodity sold. If you sell a car, you cannot tell the buyer how he should or not should not behave with that property. I'm afraid I can see no merit in trying to argue that a cat is in any way different.

That said, if the cat is hers without restriction then unless she can actually show that you said at some point that this cat would be a suitable cat for breeding, she has no case against you.

If you are a commercial seller then the Sale of Goods Act would apply to this transaction but I don't think the fact that a cat is infertile renders it any less a pedigree cat of the kind that was sold. Unless she can show that a spectific term of the contract was that this cat was to be used for breeding purposes, the cat has no particular fault beyond that which all pedigrees have of not conforming perfectly to the breed standard and there is no wrongful act.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


I'm not a commercial seller, I'm a hobby breeder. How does the law define the difference?


 


It sounds like it will depend on what the magistrate thinks on the day, would it help to get a solicitor if it does go to small claims court?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It depends how many sales you have made. If you have had more than two litters then a court probably would say that the SGA applies.

There's no need to use a solicitor at the small claims court. It will be very expensive and you won't get your costs back.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


I only have one or two litters a year but have had more than two total but would there be proof required?


 


I'm just worried I'll be really nervous going to court and not explain myself properly.


 


So she would have to prove that I told her the cat was suitable for breeding? There isn't anything in writing that says that from the time of sale. However does the fact that I've since offered to replace the cat with another kitten or have the cat to stud here actually go against me?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
They will have to prove that you are a commercial seller.

I think its quite unlikely to come to that.

Even if the SGA does apply I'm not sure in what way they could argue its been breached. They were sold a cat. They have a cat. Its a pedigree.

An offer to accept tends to suggest that you accept some liability.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.


Why would it not be likely to come to that? What is the likely outcome as it seems I may have inadvertently given evidence that I accept some liability?


 


What kind of proof would they need to show?


 


Should I try to somehow settle it before it goes to court?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

If you are a commercial seller then the Sale of Goods Act would apply to this transaction but I don't think the fact that a cat is infertile renders it any less a pedigree cat of the kind that was sold. Unless she can show that a spectific term of the contract was that this cat was to be used for breeding purposes, the cat has no particular fault beyond that which all pedigrees have of not conforming perfectly to the breed standard and there is no wrongful act.

I wouldn't offer anything at all.

Invite them to sue.

They can always get an order from the court directing that you disclose how many litters you had produced.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Can you take a look at the email I already sent her at the beginning of June please (Text Below)


"I received your letter in the post today, unfortunately I hadn't seen your emails as I no longer regularly use the email account you sent them to.


I understand your frustration at apparently being ignored, however if I had seen them initially my response would have been for you to bring Binky to stud with an unrelated male I have here free of charge. You are still welcome to do this if you wish. If this fails and there is nothing regarding Binky's health apparent to my vet or in your vet records that could be causing the issue then I would consider a replacement for her.


Unfortunately if you look at the contract you signed when you bought Binky, there is no guarantee offered in regards ***** ***** The reason for this is mainly that there is no way any guarantee can be given as so many factors can impact on fertility, all of which are outside my control. Some of which can be down to medication you may have given her, how many seasons she was allowed to have before you took her to stud or even environmental factors such as disinfectants that aren't cat safe such as Dettol or ones that contain phenols. So while I'm more than happy to help you try to get to the root of the issue and solve it if possible, I can't offer a refund as I can't be certain that there was a health issue that was present at the time of sale that is preventing pregnancy now.


Please correspond at this email address or by letter to ensure a speedy response."

I think I have admitted liability by what I've already said haven't I?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Relist: Other.
The other solicitor is offline now and I'm anxious to get a final question looked at
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
I'm not sure why that should amount to an admission of liability.

I'm happy to continue with this but please leave feedback for my answer
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
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