Find out how our legal volunteers are helping

Alan Bates, A-law trustee and a barrister, heads up our legal policy and projects team. As an organisation A-law contributes only to matters of legal policy or where legal issues may have an impact on animal welfare. Our team of volunteer lawyers use their legal skills to contribute to policy or project work where needed.




A-law shares the concerns of many animal welfare groups about the problem of puppy farming in the UK. We support the work of groups such as Pup Aid, CARIAD and the Dog Breeding Reform Group (DBRG), as well as larger dog welfare charities who are shining a light on the need for law reform in this area.

In 2014 A-law held a symposium attended by a number of key stakeholder groups to discuss ways in which law reform could help the fight against this awful trade.

Read an article by our chair, Paula Sparks and A-law members, Sarah Clover and Sally Shera-Jones on why they believe a ban on third party sales would help in the fight against puppy farms and why they are disappointed with Defra’s response to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Sub-Committee on Animal welfare in England: domestic pets. Read the response of other animal charities to the proposals and find out more about the puppy breeding problem in the UK.


Brexit & Animal Welfare

The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU provoked strong passions on all sides. Within the animal protection community, there were differences of view as to whether Brexit would be good or bad for animal protection. We now have to move on from that debate and focus on how we can best ensure the protection of animals after Brexit. A-law has been one of the groups leading the way with this.

Shortly after the decision was made by the British public to leave the EU, we published a short guide to Brexit and what this could mean in the longer term.

We then teamed up with the Wildlife & Countryside Link to host a workshop for lawyers and animal groups on the implications of Brexit for animal Welfare.

The A-law and Wildlife & Countryside Link has gone on to lead a Brexit Animal Protection Project, which brings together animal charities and NGO’s working to share information and ideas about how best to meet the challenges and opportunities posed by Brexit. We have now published a Brexit Manifesto for animals, which is available via the link below. The cosmetics firm, Lush, has kindly contributed towards the cost of this project.


Animal Cruelty Sentencing

We are often contacted by members of the public who find it difficult to understand why sentences for cases of deliberate animal cruelty, sometimes involving extreme violence, are so low. We share concerns that the maximum sentences the courts can award for deliberate animal cruelty are inadequate and out of kilter with maximum sentences in other jurisdictions and for other offences. We made written submissions about this to the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Sub-Committee on Animal welfare in England: domestic pets.

We were pleased to hear the announcement by Environment Secretary, Michael Gove Government of plans to increase the maximum sentence for deliberate animal abuse from six months to five years imprisonment. The maximum penalties will be available for the most serious offences. The news has been welcomed by animal welfare groups. We are continuing to monitor the draft legislation bringing this into effect and will provide further updates.

Read our submissions, the EFRA Sub-Committee recommendations and Defra’s response here.


Legal Personhood for Animals

The Nonhuman Rights Project (NhRP) has a mission in the United States to change the legal status of appropriate nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights as bodily integrity and bodily liberty. The NhRP seeks to work with legal working groups around the world to research appropriate strategies in those jurisdictions and A-law has been identified by the NHRP as the appropriate forum for such research in the United Kingdom.

A-law is primarily a legal education charity. It is concerned with the philosophies underpinning animal protection laws and has a role in stimulating discussion and debate about the jurisprudential basis underpinning animal protection laws. It is itself neutral about whether there should be legal personhood for nonhuman animals.

As many of A-law’s members have an interest in this topic and wanted to contribute to NhRP work in the UK we have set up a research group as a forum for those lawyers, students and academics who want to contribute their research skills to the work of the NhRP.

If you are interested in contributing to the work of this project or finding out more contact Paula Sparks at [email protected].

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