-Legal Cases

Barristers Animal Welfare Panel, Australia

What we do

The activities of the Panel are principally directed to two things: first, law reform and second, strategic litigation.

In the case of law reform, submissions are made for example to parliamentary inquiries, government and in particular Commonwealth parliamentarians. The view is taken that animal welfare should be a Commonwealth responsibility. Certainly, adequate constitutional power exists for the Commonwealth to discharge this role: for example, the corporations power, the trade and commerce power, and the post and telegraph power. There is also of course the possibility of an intergovernmental agreement, as a result of which for example the Commonwealth now plays a primary role in environment protection.

Strategic litigation in round terms is directed to the object of creating court precedents which stand to strengthen the welfare of animals. Where possible, cases in the ordinary course are screened through PILCH to ensure that public interest criteria are satisfied. PILCH then arranges, where appropriate, a law firm to instruct a member of the Panel (nominated by the Panel) as counsel. In addition, the Panel has an adjunct panel of law firms, which includes national first-tier firms to instruct in litigation.

In addition, more recently the Panel has taken steps to heighten its media profile in order to publicise issues of concern and to let it be known that animal welfare is seen as a justice issue by lawyers.

By ‘justice issue’ is meant that Australia’s laws, and in particular its animal protection statutes, provide for the institutionalised suffering of animals, some half a billion a year. This outcome results from the sanction by such statutes of codes of practice, compliance with which creates a defence or exemption to the application of the cruelty provisions of those statutes.

The codes provide for an animal welfare threshold that is much lower than the standards prescribed by the cruelty provisions of the statutes. For example, the Code of Acceptable Farming Practice for the Welfare of Poultry sanctions the confinement of a battery hen to a cage the floor area of which is less than an A4 size sheet of paper.

The Secretariat performs a research and administrative role. Animal welfare is a technical area and much of it is a science.  Sound research skills are therefore called upon regularly to be exercised by Secretariat members.

Finally, the Panel intends to hold one to two major seminars a year at which prominent lawyers will speak with a view to disseminating the message that animal welfare is a justice issue, and to instruct interested lawyers and others in matters of current concern.

The Panel arranges for legal advice and representation by its member counsel only. It does not as a body give legal advice or representation; nor does the Secretariat.

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 Should a Chimp Be Able to Sue Its Owner?

Just before 4 p.m. on Oct. 10, Steven Wise pulled his rental car in front of a multiacre compound on State Highway 30 near the tiny Adirondack hamlet of Gloversville, N.Y., and considered his next move. For the past 15 minutes, Wise had been slowly driving the perimeter of the property, trying to get a better read on the place. An assortment of transport trailers — for horses and livestock, cars, boats and snowmobiles — cluttered a front lot beside a single-story business office with the sign “Circle L Trailer Sales” set above the door. At the rear of the grounds was a barn-size, aluminum-sided shed, all its doors closed, the few small windows covered in thick plastic.

Animal Law Cases in the News
Posted by April Nockleby, ALDF’s Online Content Manager on January 14th, 2010

Some excellent articles discussing animal law issues have been hitting news stands lately, from pet custody to puppy mills. Here a few stories to check out. Post a comment with your news article suggestion below.

After Katrina, pet custody a prominent legal issue; new documentary highlights the problem
January 12, 2010, The Associated Press

“When Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and the levees broke, many who were forced to leave without their pets endured long searches to find animals that had been ferried to safety without them. You’d think that finding that their pets were alive and well after the storm would be pure joy, but for some, it was more complicated.” Read more…

Dearborn dog hoarder to get probation
January 12, 2010, Detroit Free Press

“Kenneth Lang Jr. — the Dearborn man who lived with hundreds of live and dead Chihuahuas — pleaded guilty this morning to an animal cruelty charge, and will serve five years’ probation under supervision of a Wayne County mental health court.” Read more…

USDA Shuts Down Puppy Mill; Loophole Allows Breeder To Sell Online
January 11, 2010, TheBostonChannel.com

“More than a year after Team 5 Investigates first exposed shocking and unhealthy conditions inside a Minnesota puppy mill, the federal government is finally shutting it down.

NewsCenter5’s Sean Kelly reported Monday that Kathy Bauck, owner of “Pick of the Litter” and “Puppys on Wheels,” has lost her license to operate for the next two years.” Read more…