“The horse passport regime has been under intense scrutiny in recent months following the discovery of horse meat which had entered the human food chain unlawfully. As a result there likely to be continued focus on the legislation governing this area, the Horse Passports Regulations 2009 (“Regulations”), by enforcing authorities long after the media focus on the subject has ended. This is likely to lead to an increase in investigation and enforcement activity in this area in the coming months.
All horses, ponies and donkeys are required to have a passport by virtue of the Regulations. All owners of these animals must have a passport for them which must be obtained on or before 31 December in the year of its birth or 6 months after its birth, whichever is later.
The animals cannot be sold without a passport and it is important to note that these documents are entirely separate to veterinary and breed certificates. If a horse is sold, the seller must give the passport to the buyer at the time of sale. The buyer must register the change in ownership within 30 days.
If a horse dies the keeper must return the passport to the passport issuing organisation within 30 days of the death of the horse. If a horse is slaughtered or killed for disease control purposes the official veterinary surgeon must return the passport to the passport issuing organisation.
Local aurthorities are responsible for enforcing the Regulations and have wide powers to enter premises and inspect horse passports and other documentation at any reasonable hour. A breach of the Regulations can lead to prosecution and conviction in the Magistrates’ Court can lead to fines up to £5,000. Fines for convictions in the Crown Court are not limited by statute and can be substantial.
Harrison Clark Rickerbys’ Licensing and Regulatory team has extensive experience of dealing with investigations and prosecutions in relation to animal welfare issues. Please contact Heath Thomas on 07966 429929 or James Lowe on 07964 425450 should you wish to discuss any issues arising from these Regulations or any other regulatory issues.”