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The first charge was that in April 2016, having examined a horse named Alfie on behalf of his owner, Mr Villar gave an opinion to the potential buyers but failed to make it clear that he had not undertaken a pre-purchase examination; failed to declare to the buyer that he had a conflict of interest with regard to the owner; and, failed to explain the pre-purchase examination process to the buyers.
The second charge was that, in July 2016, during a telephone conversation with the buyer, Mr Villar was dishonest and failed to provide clear and accurate information because he told the buyers that he had only been asked to trot Alfie to check he was sound when he had, in fact, carried out a more substantial examination.
The third charge was that Mr Villar had offered to either the owner or the buyer, or both, that he would prepare a veterinary insurance certificate in relation to Alfie when he knew he did not have sufficient records (eg the microchip or passport number) to do so.
The fourth charge was that Mr Villar failed to respond adequately to communications from the buyers about Alfie.
The Committee found that Mr Villar had not in fact carried out a pre purchase examination (“PPE”) and referred to guidance from the British Equine Veterinary Association which identified that pre-purchase examinations are carried out on behalf of buyers. It noted that in this case, Mr Villar had undertaken an examination on behalf of the owner. Accordingly, it did not find that Mr Villar had failed to explain the PPE process to the potential buyers.
However, the Committee did find that Mr Villar had failed to declare that he had a conflict of interest in regards to Alfie’s owner. The Committee said that Mr Villar should have told the buyer that he had been acting on behalf of the owner and was not a neutral party in the potential sale.
The Committee found all aspects of the second charge not proven, on the basis that it was not satisfied so as to be sure that Mr Villar had told the potential buyers that he had only been asked to trot Alfie and check that he was sound.
The Committee found all aspects of the third charge proven on the basis that, in an email sent to the College in March 2016, Mr Villar admitted that he did not have the sufficient records to prepare a veterinary insurance certificate.
The Committee found the fourth charge not proven on the basis that the buyers were not his clients. The Committee therefore concluded that he had no obligation to respond to them, and indeed could not do so in certain respects in order to preserve the confidentiality of his client.
The Committee then determined that the charges found proven, when taken individually or in combination, did not amount to serious professional misconduct.
Ian Green, chairing the Committee and speaking on its behalf, said: "The following mitigating factors were present in this case: the circumstances of the incident, the fact that there was no premeditation, the fact that he was requested by his client to advance an opinion to [the buyers] concerning Alfie and that his ill judgement was on the spur of the moment and the fact that he had no financial gain. These are all important factors. Likewise, the fact that he did not know that the [buyers] regarded him as their pre-purchase examination vet is an important matter.
"The respondent’s conduct was clearly against the principles of behaviour articulated by Mr Morley [who acted as an expert witness for the College] in his expert report and in his evidence. Nevertheless, the Committee does not find that in the particular circumstances of this case, namely being asked to speak to a potential purchaser without warning and without being made aware of the contractual arrangements which had been made between the respondent and [the owner], the respondent should not properly be the subject of a finding of disgraceful conduct in a professional respect."
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