I would like to thank you for taking the time to talk to me yesterday regarding my deceased mare Picante.
Your credentials are very impressive
and I would certainly feel confident if you were handling Picante’s case.
Axens North America
|Title of Article: "The "Agent"
Trainer as Fiduciary"
Author: Lisa M. Spano, Esq.
|If not careful, the web an agent weaves as a fiduciary for
his or her client can be a tangled mess for the un-expecting
In my years of equine law practice, the majority
of phone calls I receive are related primarily to agents
who violated their fiduciary duties to their clients. The
equine industry is self governed and with that, you do not
have the safe guards of codified rules and regulations within
our governing body to protect you (as owner/client) from
the sticky fingers of greed.
The majority of phone calls I receive deal with undisclosed
commissions (or in my opinion, gross windfalls to agents)
on sales of horses. Recently, at the December 2007 meeting,
the USEF tried to pass a rule for full disclosure of commissions
in horse sales.
"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the spider to the fly.
(A quote by British writer Mary Howitt)
The result...The rule change
failed. If we could only poll the "voters" on
that issue, I think we would have a good idea as to why
it failed. My hat is off to those who pioneered the cause
and worked so hard to ensure some safe guards.
As an owner/client, do not be naïve. You have the right
to know all financial transactions dealing with the sale,
or purchase of your horse.
The phone calls I receive are from those who, for example,
believe they sold their horse for $25,000.00 and find out
the "new" owner bought the horse for $50,000.00
and the added 100% commission was never disclosed. That
is where I come in. Both the seller and purchaser now feel
betrayed by their "agent" in the sale. Everyone
is unhappy, except the attorney, who makes his or her living
via litigation. Here we go! I love the smell of a courtroom!
The other problem with agents violating their fiduciary
responsibilities to clients is when the trainer binds their
clients to contracts by signing as their agent.
Here are two very simple rules to live by, to protect
you as trainer or owner:
1. A trainer should NEVER sign a contract on behalf of a
2. A trainer should NEVER prepare a legal contract for a
If you are in the middle of a legal transaction such as
leasing or selling a horse, then you, as owner, should sign
the lease agreement or bill of sale/purchase and sale agreement.
It amazes me how many trainers sign documents for their
clients. This should never be an option. Trainers, "do
not bind yourselves to potential litigation by signing on
behalf of your client" and client, "do not permit
a trainer to bind you to contract that you have not read".
Further, the client should secure legal counsel to prepare
legal binding documents, or prepare the document themselves.
Trainer, "NEVER prepare a legal binding document for
your client. That is disaster waiting to rear its ugly head".
The bottom line is that indeed the trainer acts as agent
in some circumstances and with that brings fiduciary responsibilities
owed their clients. As the trainer/agent, maintain the trust
of the client. Be the spider, but spare your client as the
Ms. Lisa M. Spano, Esq. practices general law and handles
She may be reached at: 440-255-9100.
address, 8440 Station Street, Mentor, OH 44060-4925.
also maintains an office at 9591 Sulphur Road, Sulphur,
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