Leading tack manufacturers reach settlement over video dispute

Scharf Freedom Girth video dispute settlement agreed image of horse and rider showjumping

*feature image for illustration purposes only

Two of the market leaders in the design and manufacture of innovative girthing solutions and equestrian tack have entered into a settlement agreement following a dispute over an online product review video.

CJ Proline ApS, the designer and manufacturer of the Scharf Freedom Girth, (“Scharf”) had objected to a video published by WOW Saddles that assessed different girths available to purchase.

The video was published on YouTube and the WOW website and later reposted to various Facebook pages.

In the video, David Kempsell, Managing Director of First Thought Equine Ltd (“WOW Saddles”), the manufacturers and designers of WOW saddles and girths, compared the various girths using a pressure testing method.

CJ Proline ApS objected to the content of the video as it considers the Scharf Freedom Girth to be incomparable to other girths on the market, particularly when using the pressure testing method used in the video.

Scharf also objected to the fact that the product’s instruction guide had not been consulted and that the girth had not been fitted properly during the testing.

For these reasons, Scharf did not consider the study to be a fair indication of the Scharf Freedom Girth’s performance.

Scharf and The Centre Line, the UK distributors of the Scharf Freedom Girth, approached Rebecca Stojak, the head of Geldards Solicitors’ Equine Law Team, to advise and represent them in their dispute with WOW Saddles.

Geldards’ Equine Law Team instructed Oliver Nunn, a barrister with KCH Garden Square, who together with Rebecca Stojak and Jon Butler, a Partner in Geldards Commercial Dispute Resolution Team, negotiated a settlement between the two parties.

WOW Saddles apologised for any omission and pledged to ensure it contacted the manufacturer of any products prior to undertaking future tests.

As part of the settlement WOW published the following statement:

On 30 July 2021, WOW published a Video in which Mr Kempsell and WOW undertook an assessment of different girths available to purchase on the open market.

Whilst we stand by the results of the testing undertaken, we have since been made aware by CJ Proline ApS, the manufacturer of the Scharf Freedom Girth (‘Scharf’), that they consider the Scharf Freedom Girth to be incomparable to other girths on the market, particularly when using the pressure testing method used in the study, and without the use of the Scharf Freedom Girth’s user manual/instruction guide. Scharf do not consider, therefore, the study to be a fair indication of the Scharf Freedom Girth’s performance.

Specifically, Scharf purport the girth was not fitted properly in the testing. We apologise for any omission and will ensure that in the future we contact the manufacturer of any products prior to undertaking similar tests to ensure they are content the products are being tested as per manufacturer specification. 

Our intention was to produce a fair comparison of girths on the market. It is important, therefore, to make you aware of Scharf’s position in respect of the testing undertaken in the Video, and specifically the alleged performance of the Scharf Freedom Girth. A settlement has also now been entered into between ourselves and Scharf in respect of the dispute about the Video.  

Rebecca Stojak, head of the equine law team at Geldards, said:

“This is an excellent result for our client CJ Proline ApS (Scharf) and its UK distributor, The Centre Line, and we are grateful for the hard work, diligence and support of Oliver Nunn in assisting us in negotiating the settlement.

“Reputation is important to any business, and especially so in a competitive market like equestrian saddlery products. We are pleased that we have been able to help our client uphold their excellent reputation for offering quality, innovative technical equine saddlery products of the highest quality which improve the horse’s comfort and performance.

“It is important that anyone with a potential equine dispute seek legal advice as soon as possible, as Scharf and the Centre line did in this matter. This enables Geldards Equine Team to advise on the best way forward from an early stage in order to try to get a speedy resolution of the matter so that our clients can get on with doing what they are passionate about; we offer a no obligation free chat to all potential clients.”

Claire Hubbard, co-owner of The Centre Line commented:

“We pride ourselves on engaging with independent experts, to demonstrate the unique and incredible qualities of the products we choose to distribute, like the Scharf Freedom Girth. This can be costly, and time consuming, but we believe that this is the only way to prove with any certainty that the particular product is performing so that each horse owner can make an informed decision on what is best for them and their horse. Our aim is to provide innovative equine saddlery products that allow both the horse and rider to perform to the best of their abilities.

“Both Scharf and The Centre Line are very pleased with the result achieved in this dispute. Rebecca has been excellent throughout; she has provided timely and pragmatic legal advice which has been backed up with her ‘hands on’ knowledge of the equine world.”

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