Does California do things the Cowboy way? On a hand shake?


I found Florida Administrative Law Code 5H-26 today.  It contains new laws (two years old) governing the sale and purchase of horses.  At the very top of the list I found some of the most interesting provisions:


(1) Any sale or purchase of a horse or any interest therein in Florida shall be accompanied by a written bill of sale described in Rule 5H-26.004, F.A.C., except as provided in subsection (8).
(2) A person shall not act as a dual agent in a transaction involving the sale or purchase of an interest in a horse without:
(a) The prior knowledge of both the Purchaser and the Owner; and
(b) Written consent of both the Purchaser and the Owner.
(3) No person acting as an agent for a Purchaser or an Owner, or acting as a dual agent, in a transaction involving the sale or purchase of a horse or any interest therein, may receive consideration, compensation, fees, a gratuity, or any other item of value in excess of five hundred dollars ($500), related directly or indirectly to such transaction, from an individual or entity, including any consignor involved in the transaction, other than the agent’s principal, unless:
(a) The agent receiving, and the person or entity making, the payment disclose in writing the payment to both the Purchaser and Owner; and
(b) Each principal for whom the agent is acting consents in writing to the payment.


In summary, if a trainer arranges for two people to meet, for one to sell and one to buy a horse, the trainer cannot take a 10% commission as a finder's fee from both!  If the trainer wants to do so (be a dual agent), then it must be established BEFORE the transaction AND in WRITING.  And look closely at provision (3), limiting a trainer to receive $500 from the transaction, unless in writing and both parties (when both are represented by the same trainer)  agree in writing.  On a standard $20,000 horse, $500 is a pretty far cry from the typical 10% commission (which, by the way, is infrequently put into writing in the California horse world).

Furthermore, the statute also lists certain treatments that must be revealed to a buyer if the treatment was performed on a horse within 7 days prior to sale.  Included: acupuncture and electro-stimulation because it can conceal the "true conformation of the horse." Fascinating.

All this to say, California does not have a congruous statute.  California has hardly any equine administrative laws outside of drug regulations or the racing industry actually.   Presumably if someone wished to bring a case in California it would be on generic "consumer fraud" principles.  While very possibly a sufficient form of recovery, those principles do not provide specific remedies for this particular type of equine fraud as the Florida statute does.

One of the local equine lawyers told me that the greatest volume of fraud she has seen is when Trainer 1 has a client who is willing to pay, say $50,000.  Trainer 1 talks to Trainer 2, who has a client selling a horse for, say $40,000.  Trainer 1 and 2 collaborate and agree to work out a deal to give themselves the greatest commission..  Trainer 1 returns to her client and says that Trainer 2 has a horse at her barn for $50,000.  Voila, instant price inflation based on (what should be) confidential information (the amount willing to pay) between trainer and client.  Trainer 1 has not acted as an advocate for his/her client, but has abused the trust by fraud.

Equally fascinating as the Florida statute: why California seems to be missing an entire body of law.