PPEs and your VDS Professional Indemnity Policy
Every year the VDS handles a significant number of claims made against equine veterinary surgeons in respect of equine pre-purchase examinations.
The VDS Professional Indemnity Policy excludes cover in respect of any liability relating to advice or representations made regarding the condition of a horse provided in connection with a sale, purchase or valuation of a horse unless such liability arises from:
i. Horse Certificates in the form approved by the Society which relate only to pregnancy diagnosis; or
ii. Horse Certificates in the form approved by the Society which comply with the conditions set out in the Horse Certificate and are prepared on behalf of a vendor intending to sell a horse at auction in the UK or Ireland and:
a) the examination has included all five stages of the protocol set out in the BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the “Examination of a Horse on behalf of a Purchaser (amended 2018)” or any subsequent version of the Guidance Notes unless the condition of the horse at the time of the examination renders all five stages of the protocol impossible and a certificate in the form approved by the Society has been amended, at the time, to exclude a stage or stages of the protocol, and the reasons for such exclusion endorsed upon the certificate; or
b) The Horse Certificate relates only to the gynaecological examination of a mare or filly; or
iii) Horse Certificates documenting an examination undertaken on behalf of a purchaser where a certificate approved by the Society in force at the time of the examination is completed, provided that the examination has included all five stages of the protocol set out in the BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the “Examination of a Horse on behalf of a Purchaser (amended 2018)” or any subsequent version of the Guidance Notes unless:
a) The Horse Certificate is approved by the Society and relates only to the gynaecological examination of a mare or filly; or
b) the condition of the horse at the time of the examination renders all five stages of the protocol impossible and a certificate in the form approved by the Society has been amended, at the time, to exclude a stage or stages of the protocol, and the reasons for such exclusion endorsed upon the certificate; or
c) at the time of the examination, the purchaser has agreed in writing by way of the letter of instruction approved by the Society to limit the examination to stages 1 and 2 only of the protocol, and the certificate in the form approved by the Society has been amended, at the time of the examination, to exclude stages 3, 4 and 5 of the protocol from the examination and the reasons for such exclusion endorsed upon the Horse Certificate. See the section below on Limited PPE.
VDS Approved Horse Certificates
The VDS ePPE app produces a certificate in the format that is approved by the VDS.
Other Approved Certificates are detailed here:
- Certificate of veterinary examination of a horse on behalf of prospective purchaser
- Certificate of veterinary examination of a horse on behalf of prospective purchaser (single sheet)
- Certificate of veterinary examination of a horse for insurance purposes
- Equine Pregnancy Certificate
- Certificate of veterinary gynaecological examination of a mare or filly on behalf of the purchaser of a horse sold at auction
- Record of the pre-bid inspection of a horse
- Certificate of veterinary examination of a horse prior to sale at auction **
- Certificate of veterinary gynaecological examination of a mare or filly prior to being offered for sale at auction **
** The Certificate of veterinary examination of a horse prior to sale at auction and the Certificate of veterinary gynaecological examination of a mare or filly prior to being offered for sale at auction are “approved certificates” in respect of 2.8 (h) (ii) of the Veterinary Defence Society Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy only if the horse is to be offered for sale at a named sale where the sale conditions require that:
- the horse has undergone a veterinary examination, substantially in accordance with the standard procedure recommended by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons/Veterinary Council of Ireland/British Equine Veterinary Association/Veterinary Ireland Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse on Behalf of a Prospective Purchaser (2018), and;
- a certificate describing the examination referred to in 1) above is to be presented to the Auction Company in advance of the sale, and;
- the successful bidder has the right to cancel the purchase having had the horse examined by a veterinary surgeon acting on their behalf.
To purchase hard copy pads of approved blank certificates please visit our Store.
Limited Prior-to-Purchase Examinations of Horses (LPPEs)
Where circumstances allow, it is preferable to undertake a full 5-stage prior-to-purchase examination (PPE) in accordance with the protocol set out in the BEVA/RCVS Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse on Behalf of a Prospective Purchaser.
A veterinary surgeon may decide to conduct a limited examination, if the condition of the horse is such that a full 5-stage examination is not advisable or not possible, eg pregnancy or immaturity. In this case, a note of the stages omitted and the reasons must be entered on the PPE certificate.
By contrast, if a client insists on having only a limited prior-to-purchase examination (LPPE), which consists of stages 1 and 2 only, the Society’s instructions are:
Understanding the Difference
Before examining the horse, the client’s attention must be drawn to the extent of the limited examination as compared with the full PPE, to allow them to understand the difference between them.
Letter of Request
In addition, before issuing your PPE report and certificate, you must receive written instructions from the client or agent, requesting the limited examination and acknowledging that they understand the consequences of these limitations. The approved form of wording for a letter requesting a Limited PPE can be found here.
The client should be given time to read and assimilate the contents of the LPPE Letter. To assist them, all five stages are explained within the accompanying notes, making clear those which are to be included and those which are to be excluded. Ideally, prospective purchasers should receive the letter and notes some days before the examination. In the event of a dispute, courts are more likely to be sympathetic to claimants who can show they were not allowed adequate time in which to consider the letter, or to take further advice on its content.
You should retain the signed letter for at least 6 years, and advise the client to retain their copy also.
Where time does not permit the exchange of letters it is acceptable to provide the approved LPPE Letter wording and explanatory notes attached to a covering email in which the client is requested to confirm a) that they have read the letter and notes and b) that they require a PPE limited to stages one and two only.
Cover in respect of claims relating to LPPEs is specifically excluded from the VDS Practice Policy unless the above instructions have been complied with. See the section above on PPEs and your VDS Professional Indemnity Policy.
The LPPE must be conducted strictly according to stages 1 & 2 of the Guidance Notes on the Examination of a Horse on Behalf of a Prospective Purchaser.
Notwithstanding the restriction to stages 1 and 2, the examination should be thorough. Our statistics show that in most disputes involving a full PPE, negligence is alleged to have occurred during these first two stages.
The results of the examination must be recorded on the Certificate of Veterinary Examination of a Horse on behalf of a Prospective Purchaser approved by VDS, and the reasons for the limitation of the examination eg “at the prospective purchaser’s request ”specified in the appropriate place.
The VDS/LGC Blood Sampling Scheme
The VDS supports an arrangement with LGC whereby blood samples collected at a pre-purchase examination and submitted to LGC using the dedicated sample and submission packs are stored for 6 months so that in the event of a claim arising in connection with the pre-purchase examination, the blood sample can be tested.
The scheme also facilitates the immediate testing of samples on those occasions where the prospective purchaser wishes to investigate the possibility of the horse having received medical treatment prior to purchase.
From 1st April 2020 LGC can no longer offer screening for prohibited at all times substances through the VDS scheme. Further details of LGC’s screening service from 1st April 2020 are as follows:
- Substances covered by LGC’s Screening Service: The screening process covers a wide range of compounds and metabolites from various pharmaceutical classes, including but not limited to: non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, analgesics, corticosteroids, local anaesthetics, sedatives, tranquilisers, anti-histamines, beta-blockers and diuretics.
- Substances NOT covered by LGC’s Screening Service: The screening process does not cover prohibited at all times substances which includes but is not limited to substances such as anabolic steroids, bisphosphonates, EPO, cobalt and arsenic.
The sample submission paperwork will be updated to reflect the new agreement. In the meantime, whilst the new paperwork filters through the supply chain, LGC will accept samples for storage and/or screening using the old paperwork, but sample now receive the above amended screening coverage from 1st April 2020.
All samples submitted under the VDS/LGC scheme must be collected in accordance with the Sampling Instructions and dispatched to LGC using an approved VDS PPE Blood Sampling Kit (available from veterinary wholesalers) together with the completed VDS/LGC PPE Blood Sample Submission Form.
Further details, including the cost of elective testing, are set out in the VDS/LGC PPE Blood Sampling Brochure 2023.