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Mont horse breeder awarded €1.1m

Paris court rules company that operates horse-drawn carriages on Mont Saint-Michel did not train drivers properly

A FRENCH court has ordered a subsidiary of multinational Veolia to pay €1.1million to a horse breeder in Normandy after ruling it had not properly trained the drivers of carriages drawn by the animals on Mont Saint-Michel.

The Commercial Court of Paris ruled that Transdev, which operates the horse-drawn “maringotes” for tourists visiting the World Heritage site, had not “properly trained its drivers to ensure the safety of the public and the protection of horses”.

The legal dispute kicked off when breeder Norbert Coulon refused to let Transdev use his horses in December 2013, accusing the company of “hiring incompetent drivers” and “endangering the health of his animals”.

Transdev launched legal proceedings against Mr Coulon for breaching his contract in January this year.

But the court ruled in the horse breeder’s favour on Monday, and ordered it to pay €1million for the termination of the contract, €86,400 in unpaid bills and €10,000 for “abuse of process”.

The company has said it will appeal.

It is the latest in a long line of problems for Transdev, which landed the contract to supply transport services on Mont Saint-Michel in 2009. It began operating the services in 2012, but reported €4million losses in its first year.

It had also been repeatedly warned for breaches of its obligations by the Joint Association of the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel, the association of local authorities that oversee the restoration of maritime character of the rock.

It is has paid the Joint Association €500 per day for every carriage it has failed to operate since December, and has been buying horses so it can fulfil its contractual obligations.

Photo: afloresm

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