A Warwickshire lawyer has been taken on by equestrian magazine Horse & Hound to lobby the Government over legislation which hits drivers of horseboxes.
Jacqui Fulton, a solicitor at Blythe Liggins, said the interpretation of the latest transport regulations was “ludicrous”. Mrs Fulton, who is an equestrian law specialist representing some of Britain’s top riders and is a national champion herself in British dressage, said anyone with a full-time job was effectively banned from driving a horse-box at weekends due to the EU working-time directive concerning rest periods for HGV drivers.
She said: “This is an unintended consequence of the EC regulation; it was meant for HGVs but, by default, applies to the non-commercial sector as well. The situation is untenable and equestrian drivers are not the only ones being caught out by this daft piece of legislation.”
The horse industry has united in blaming the Government’s enforcement agency, the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which ensures drivers comply with road traffic legislation – much of which is set by the European Union.
“Looking at the letter of the law, which is the only way you get to the bottom of this, VOSA is wrong,” Mrs Fulton said. “The matter needs to be clarified – once VOSA starts to bring prosecutions, it will get the bit between its teeth.
The British Horse Society and the British Equestrian Federation will be joining Horse & Hound and Mrs Fulton in lobbying the Government and the European Commission for either exemption or a change in the law.
Mrs Fulton works exclusively in equestrian law, which involves competition laws, agreements between riders and owners and many other aspects of the equestrian business. It will be her first visit to Parliament as a lobbyist.
She wrote an article for Horse & Hound after it emerged that an unexpected side effect of the working-time legislation would mean people were banned from driving horse-boxes at the weekend – even if it was a hobby. The magazine decided to take her on after the article was printed.
“I contacted them to tell them the law had got it wrong,” she said.
“When they asked me to help, I said ‘of course’.
“It’s something that I don’t think for a minute was intentional, but they are maintaining that you can’t drive a horsebox at weekends.”
Mrs Fulton is a solicitor advocate and head of the Leamington Spa firm’s equine department. She trained in Birmingham and joined Blythe Liggins in 2003. She became interested in equine law after years of experience with competition horses and in yard and livery business management.
As well as riding, she has considerable experience of veterinary procedures, competition and prohibited substance restrictions, yard and livery business management.