Animal Law in Scotland

A-LAW’s Scotland Committee injects much needed legal advocacy into the political and law-making process. Our Committee members include recognised experts in animal welfare law. With your support we can provide legal advocacy for animals, identifying opportunities to strengthen the law, working with law and policy makers to ensure that animal interests are represented.

We welcome the creation of an Animal Welfare Commission by the Scottish Government. We support the work of the Commission by identifying issues concerning animals and feeding into the political process, providing much needed political representation for animals.


Mike  Radford

Chair of the Scotland Committee

Our work in Scotland! What we’re doing…

to represent animals in the Scottish legal and political systems.

About animal law in Scotland

The power to make laws about animal welfare has been largely devolved to Scotland, with some exceptions. International treaties are entered into by the UK Government and the regulation of animals in research is reserved to Westminster.

The Scottish Government has an Animal Health and Welfare Division which administers animal welfare policy. This Division is part of the Directorate for Agriculture, Food and Rural Communities. Find out more here.

The enforcement of animal welfare law is the responsibility of the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA). The SSPCA investigates animal cruelty cases, but unlike the RSPCA, which operates in England and Wales, it does not bring prosecutions. Local authorities are responsible for enforcing animal welfare laws in their district. There is an agreed Memorandum of Understanding between the SSPCA and local authorities as to their respective operations, which helps to avoid duplication of effort. If there is a prosecution it will be brought by the Procurator Fiscal and put before the Scottish courts.

Find Scottish animal protection laws on the Scottish Government animal health and welfare page here.

Scottish Animal Welfare Commission

The Scottish Government has set up a new independent body to provide scientific and ethical advice to the Government about animal welfare. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission is chaired by Professor Cathy Dwyer and will consider how the needs of sentient animals (capable of experiencing feelings) are being met by Scottish policies, what can be done to further protect the welfare of sentient animals and to provide research for future policy development.

The Animal Welfare Commission will be concerned with policies relating to wild and companion animals. In relation to farming and zoos, there already exists a UK Animal Welfare Committee and a UK Zoo Expert Committee. The Scottish Animal Welfare Commission will limit itself in these areas to matters that fall within the responsibility of the Scottish Government.

Scottish Parliament Information Centre subject profile on animal health and welfare

The subject profile is an excellent source of information about the law in Scotland relating to animals and the legal and policy landscape, including current policy initiatives. The document sets out key legislation, roles and responsibilities across areas relating to both domesticated animals and wildlife. Access the subject profile here

Meet the members of our Scotland Committee

Explore More! Support us and…

help us achieve our vision of a world where animal interests are fully protected by law.

Animal law is growing in popularity amongst law students, with Scotland leading the way in offering animal law modules. Visit our Courses page to find out where you can study animal law in Scotland.

Study Animal Law

Find out more about the ways students are getting involved in our work across Scotland.

Student Voices

Our Scotland Committee provides input into the law and policy making process. Through our volunteers, we provide input into consultations and work closely with NGOs to identify opportunites for reform. Find out more about our work.

Legal Advocacy

Watch and learn! Enjoy past events…

from our Scotland Committee. Find more videos on our YouTube channel, Animal Law TV.

The Animal Welfare Act 2006 by Mike Radford OBE

A-LAW Trustee, Mike Radford OBE, provides an introduction to the UK’s Animal Welfare Acts. Mike Radford is a Reader in law in the University of Aberdeen. Over the course of thirty years, he has extensive experience of teaching animal welfare law and working with politicians, officials, NGOs, and professional bodies in developing public policy towards non-human animals.

Issues & Challenges in Wildlife Protection by Libby Anderson

Join Libby Anderson for our Bitesize talk, in which she discusses contemporary issues and challenges in UK wildlife protection. Libby is the Policy Advisor for OneKind (formerly Advocates for Animals) and was previously the charity’s Policy Director. Over the past 20 years she has worked to influence Scottish legislation relevant to wild animal welfare, including hunting with dogs, the regulation of snaring, the protection of seals, general licences for the taking and killing of wild birds and the use of wild animals in travelling circuses. Libby is also involved in supporting campaigns on wild animal welfare issues such as a ban on snares and other traps, the culling of mountain hares and the use of glue traps. She is the Secretary of the Wild Animal Welfare Committee (WAWC), which she helped to found in 2014.

Third Animal Law, Ethics & Policy Conference - COMING SOON

Discover what’s coming up at our next Animal Law, Ethics & Policy Conference. We have a range of excellent speakers discussing topical issues and debate topics.

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farmed fish amro hussain

Forgotten fish – legal protection at the time of killing farmed fish

Paula talks to Amro Hussain about legal protections for farmed fish in episode #23 of our Talking Animal Law podcast.

animal law week 2023

Animal Law Day 2023

Help us celebrate animal law week, culminating in animal law day this July! Get involved 18-22 July.

Act for animals at your uni

Find out how to become a Student Member and get active for animals at your university!

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Monckton Chambers
1 & 2 Raymond Buildings
Gray’s Inn

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