Section E: Local Authorities
This section is designed to assist Local Authorities with understanding the enforcement requirements of horse passports. It is not an exhaustive guide and is not a legal document. In case of doubt, please refer to The Equine Animal (Identification)(Scotland) Regulations 2019 and European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 or consult your legal adviser.
The primary purpose of the horse passport enforcement regime is to ensure compliance. Enforcement of this legislation should contribute towards Local Authority’s existing trading standards work to protect consumers and support legitimate business, while the equine identification system aims to prevent horsemeat, which may have been treated with veterinary medicine, from entering the human food chain.
A person who commits an offence under The Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale.
Fixed penalty notices will be issued if an offence has occurred during the movement or transportation of a horse. In these circumstances, a fine of 40% of Level 1 on the standard scale will apply.
Full information on offences can be found in The Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019.
Key Inspection Points
- Ensuring that PIOs are operating efficiently and within the requirements of the law.
- Ensuring that PIOs have an electronic record which contains the information of the passports they have issued.
- Check that owners/keepers have horse passports at events and shows.
- Check that microchips match passports by scanning horses.
- Check if Part II Section II (or Part II Section IX in pre-2016 passports) is signed and see whether the appropriate medications and vaccinations are being recorded.
- Check that the owner information is correct.
- Inspectors can also ask for passports on premises where horses are kept.
- Horse owners/keepers in Scotland may have ScotEquine card – it is not an offence if these cannot be presented.
- Where a PIO receives a passport that they believe has been fraudulently tampered with, they should send the passport to their local authority;
- The local authority should then assess the passport and send it to the relevant local authority to follow up.
Reasons why a passport may be unavailable
The main reasons are:
- the animal is a foal and a passport is not yet required;
- the horse is being exercised and the passport/ScotEquine card is at the owner’s home premises;
- the passport has been returned to the PIO for updating (i.e. changes of ownership, updating the silhouette, etc.) however, the PIO will aim to issue a temporary document within 10 working days;
- a passport has been applied for but not yet received;
- the passport is lost and a replacement has been applied for but not yet received;
- the horse is cared for by a charity or welfare organisation; or
- the owner is only visiting Scotland and the horse will be in the country for less than 30 days.
Powers of Entry
An inspector may, on producing a duly authenticated document showing the authority of that inspector, at all reasonable hours, enter any premises (excluding any premises not containing any horse and used only as a dwelling) for the purpose of administering and enforcing European Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2015/262 and The Equine Animal (Identification)(Scotland) Regulations 2019; and “premises” includes any vehicle or container.
An inspector may:
(a) require the production of an identification document, duplicate identification document, replacement identification document or ScotEquine card and mark it as necessary;
(b) carry out any enquiries;
(c) have access to, and inspect and copy any records (in whatever form they are held) kept;
(d) remove such records to enable them to be copied;
(e) have access to, inspect and check the operation of any computer and any associated apparatus or material that is or has been in use in connection with the records; and for this purpose may require any person having charge of, or otherwise concerned with the operation of, the computer, apparatus or material to afford the inspector such assistance as may reasonably be required and, where a record is kept by means of a computer, may require the records to be produced in a form in which they may be taken away;
(f) mark any equine animal or other thing for identification purposes;
(g) examine any equine animal, identification document or microchip;
(h) require the name and address of any person in charge or in possession of identification documents, records or studbooks, or in control of any equine animal;
(i) take photographs or any other digital record of anything on the land or premises;
(j) take samples from, for the exercise of his or her functions, an equine animal or any article the inspector may reasonably require, and carry out or cause to be carried out, on the samples such tests, analyses, examinations or inspections as the inspector considers necessary or expedient, and mark or otherwise identify the sample; and
(k) be accompanied by such other persons as the inspector considers necessary.
Fixed Penalty Notices
The Fixed Penalty Notice’s (FPN) scheme has been introduced to encourage responsible horse ownership. The scheme is not designed to punish those already following the rules around horse ownership, rather clamp down on those who are operating outside of the law and whose practices pose a potential risk to those acting responsibly.
Regulation 27(1)(a) and (b) of the Equine Animal (Identification) (Scotland) Regulations 2019 contain offences that a FPN may be issued in respect of. These are:
- Moving or transporting a horse without a passport or where no ScotEquine Card has been issued (excluding horses which are:
a) stabled or on pasture, and the identification document can be presented without delay by the keeper;
b) temporarily ridden, driven, led or taken to a place
i. in the vicinity of the holding so that the passport can be presented without delay; or
ii. to and from registered summer grazing grounds provided that the passport can be presented at the holding of departure;
c) unweaned and accompanying its dam or foster mare;
d) participating in a training or test of an equestrian competition or event which requires them to leave temporarily the training, competition or event venue;
e) moved or transported in an emergency situation relating to the horse or to the holding on which they are kept. In addition, a horse may be moved for a period not exceeding 45 days without a passport if a temporary document has been issued (but not if being moved or transported for slaughter).
- Moving or transporting a horse for slaughter without a valid passport.
A fixed penalty notice must:
(a) identify the alleged offence;
(b) give reasonable particulars of the circumstances alleged to constitute that offence;
(c) state the amount of the penalty and the period within which it may be paid;
(d) state the person to whom and the address at which payment of the penalty may be made;
(e) state the method or methods by which payment may be made;
(f) identify the person to whom and the address at which any representations relating to the notice may be made; and
(g) contain an explanation of the effect of making payment in accordance with the notice, and of the consequences of not making a payment within the period for payment.
If a FPN is offered and the recipient accepts the penalty, all criminal liability in respect of the matter will be discharged. If they do not pay the FPN, Local Authorities can refer the case to COPFS for consideration for possible prosecution. They will have up to 28 days from the date of issue of the penalty notice to decide whether to accept the offer and pay. However, the Local Authority may extend the period for paying the FPN in any particular case if it considers it appropriate to do so.
If the FPN is paid within the specified time, no criminal proceedings will be taken and no criminal conviction will be recorded in respect of the alleged offence.
Where a FPN has been withdrawn then no amount is payable and any amount paid in pursuance of that notice must be repaid to the person who paid it.
This advice has been prepared in consultation with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Veterinary Medicine Directorate, British Veterinary Association, British Equine Veterinary Association and the Local Authority Stakeholder group.