Our policy team
How we help
We want to see strong animal protection laws. This means having robust legislation that is properly enforced. We also want to see courts applying this legislation and building up a body of case law around animal protection laws.
Our policy team contributes to government consultations, publishes briefing papers, contributes to legal discussion around animal welfare measures and provides support to animal advocacy groups.
We also provide training about the law to help animal advocacy groups work to full effectiveness within the legal framework.
areas of concern
We share concern with other animal advocacy and welfare groups about the problem of puppy farming (high profit, low welfare breeding regimes).
In 2014 A-law held a symposium bringing together key stakeholder groups to discuss ways in which law reform could help the fight against this awful trade.
We are proud that one of our legal volunteers was able to inject legal expertise into the campaign for Lucy's Law, which bans the third party sale of puppies.
We continue to monitor the need for legal reform in this area, including restrictions on imports.
Brexit & Animal Welfare
The referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU provoked strong passions on all sides. While there were differences of opinion in society about 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 (WCL) to host a workshop for lawyers and animal groups on the implications of Brexit for animal Welfare. With the WCL, we helped coordinate a Brexit Manifesto for animals, identifying key threats and opportunities arising from Brexit. We are grateful to Lush for sponsoring this manifesto.
Since publication of the report, we have been involved with the #BetterDealforAnimals coalition, which brings together animal charities and NGO’s working to secure stronger animal protection laws post Brexit.
Animal Cruelty Sentencing
We believe 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. Read our submissions, the EFRA Sub-Committee recommendations and Defra’s response here.
While pleased by the Government announcement in 2017 that it would bring in legislation to increase the maximum sentence for certain categories of offences under the Animal Welfare Act 2006 (relating to deliberate animal abuse) from six months to five years imprisonment, we are disappointed that this legislation has still not been enacted in England and Wales.
The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill 2020 has been introduced as a Private Member's Bill by Chris Loder MP and its Second reading is scheduled for 23 October. The Government has announced its support for the Bill. We will continue to monitor developments and press for tougher sentencing powers to deal with the most serious offences.
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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