25 Jun 2022

Foal levy concerns can be raised in Supreme Court after Kildare farmer takes case

Naas Circuit Court

Foal levy concerns can be raised in Supreme Court after Kildare farmer takes case

File photo


A Naas judge has given permission to a Monasterevin stud farm owner to raise his concerns about the way foal levies are determined with the Supreme Court.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) appealed the case it lost in the Small Claims Court in May to Naas Circuit Court today.

Judge Desmond Zaidan had ruled in favour of stud farm owner, Gerry Callanan in May and ordered the return of €154 - part of the foal levy Mr Callanan had paid.

This morning, Judge James O'Donohoe allowed the appeal, but said Mr Callanan could keep the money. He concluded HRI had acted correctly in relation to the determination of the fees, and were hamstrung by the legislation.

He said he had no power to strike out the “statutory instrument” - the rules set out for assessing how horses are rated and valued. However, he said he could give his interpretation.

Given the issues highlighted by Mr Callanan of Nanallac Stud, Lughill, Monasterevin, and the implications for other breeders in the horse racing industry, the judge gave him permission to take a case stated to the Supreme Court, either by agreement with HRI, or on his own.

HRI said it was satisfied with the judge's interpretation and did not want to take the matter further.

Earlier, the judge had been informed of the particulars of the case.

When a breeder has a new foal, they must be registered with HRI, the thoroughbred racing authority, and pay an appropriate fee.

That levy is calculated based on the advertised stallion fee. In the case of Carried, a foal bred in 2010 by Mr Callanan, the full advertised price for a service by its sire, Coolmore-based stallion Footstepsinthesand, was €12,500. However in a deal struck with Coolmore, Mr Callanan only paid €7,500.

His argument was that the levy should be based on the stud fee that is actually paid rather than the advertised price. In terms of the levy, that was the difference between a fee of €385 versus €231.

The court heard Mr Callanan was essentially taking an action against HRI for the return of €154 on a matter of principal.

Judge O'Donohoe reserved the question of costs pending the outcome of any Supreme Court decision.

He was informed Mr Callaghan's legal team had built up costs of €13,500 so far because of the complicated nature of the case. Padraic O’Neill BL, argued it was a case which had implications for the horse racing industry and his client should not have to bear the cost.

He said many other breeders had taken a huge interest in the outcome.

Judge O'Donohoe said the case was taken as a small claims case and, therefore the legal costs should be on a par with District Court costs.

He said the idea of the Small Claims Court was to allow those with limited economic means to take court cases.

Speaking previously, Mr Callanan said the rules determining the fees and bands should be looked at

“It should seriously be redrafted in simple English,” he said, “It is vague and can lend itself to misunderstanding and confusion.”

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