Seizure of a horse on Criminal Law grounds remains in effect

In the Netherlands there is a possibility for the public prosecutor to seize goods which are related to criminal offences. Recently the public prosecutor has made use of this possibility and seized a horse. Three other parties complained against the seizure now that they claimed that they were the owner of that particular horse. The three complainants substantiated their claim of ownership by referring to the studbook registration papers of the horse, several statements of people involved and the limited evidential value of mentioning the ownership in the FEI passport.

The public prosecutor contradicted the statements of the complainants.

According to him there was no impartial evidence which proofs that the complainants are the owner of the horse. Apart from this the public prosecutor also believes that the fact that the horse was not stabled at the complainants premises was also of importance.

The Court of Oost-Brabant has looked into the complaint. According to the Court the complaint could be declared valid if it becomes clear that the complainants are the owner of the horse. However the Court believed that this was not the case. For the Court it was relevant that the horse was found at the premises of the persecuted and that the persecuted was mentioned as the owner on the FEI passport. The explanation which the complainants gave to why the persecuted was mentioned in the FEI passport was not enough for the Court to clear out any reasonable doubt that the complainants were the owner of the horse. The Court of Oost-Brabant therefore ruled that the complaint was unjustified and that the seizure of the horse remains unaffected.

In most cases the ownership of a horse does not result in any topic for discussion.

However, with the ruling from the Court of Oost-Brabant in the aforementioned case it once again becomes clear that in cases in which the ownership of a horse does leave a topic for discussion it isn’t that easy to make clear who the owner of the horse is. Unlike the register we have for real estate there is no register in the Netherlands in which the ownership of a horse has been determined. This means that the circumstances and the facts should lead to the answer to who the owner of the horse is. Examples of these circumstances could be a written purchase agreement which mentions who the buying party is, who pays the purchase price, who pays for the expenses of the horse,  the registered name in the passport and/or studbook registration papers and witnesses who can state by whom the horse has been purchased. The outcome all depends on a combination of the available evidence now that none of the aforementioned circumstances by itself forms a basis to proof that someone is the owner.

If you have any further questions with regards to this article or are you experiencing the same issues then please contact us through the following phonenumber: +31 (0) 13 511 44 20 or

This article has been written by Mr. B.E.J. Loeffen of Schelstraete Advocaten.

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