Sentencing Council consultation on guidelines for dangerous dog offences

26 March 2015

The Sentencing Council is consulting on a comprehensive revision of the guidelines for dangerous dog offences.

The consultation comes in response to the substantial amendments made to the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991, enacted in May 2014 through ss.106 and 107 of the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014. The amendments to the legislation include increased maximum penalties for dangerous dog offences and the introduction of the new offence of attacks on an assistance dog.

The substantial legislative amendments have led the Council to heavily revise the guidelines, the changes to which include new sentence ranges to reflect the increased penalties and guidance for the new offence.

The Council is now calling for views on the draft guidelines from both members of the public and professionals with an interest in the area.

The consultation is now open and will close on 9th June 2015.

Information on how to respond to the consultation can be found here:

Enforcement – the conundrum at the heart of animal welfare policy?

‘The independent review of the prosecution activity of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ by Stephen Wooler CB

Monday 27 April 2015 at 6pm, at Doughty Street Chambers, London

ALAW is pleased to host this seminar and discussion around the enforcement regime for animal cruelty offences, including an in-depth look at the Wooler review. Mike Radford will discuss the implications of the review, the RSPCA’s response and the possible landscape for the future prosecution of animal cruelty offences. He will be joined (subject to court commitments) by barrister, Iain O’Donnell, who frequently acts in RSPCA prosecutions.

Mike RadfordMike Radford is Reader in Law at the University of Aberdeen. Having established in 1992 the first animal welfare course in a UK law school, he is still waiting (with a handful of notable exceptions) for the rest of legal academia to catch up. In the meantime, he has been extensively involved in the development of animal welfare law and policy.

He is presently a trustee of Dogs Trust, the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare, and the Humane Slaughter Association. Mike is a visiting lecturer at Cambridge, Edinburgh and Glasgow Vet Schools. His previous activities include acting as “critical friend” to the Wooler Report, 12 years as a trustee of the PDSA, and membership of the Companion Animal Welfare Council, the Dog Advisory Council, and the Science, Ethics and Law Board of the RCVS. He was a founder member of AWSELVA and (he thinks) ALAW.

Iain O'DonnellIain O’Donnell is a barrister at 1 Crown Office Row, who has a niche specialism in animal welfare: he frequently acts for the RSPCA in criminal, public and civil matters, almost all of which involve an element of veterinary law and the close consideration of the often-convoluted body of animal welfare legislation. Iain’s specialist criminal practice includes prosecuting for the RSPCA in animal cruelty cases.

He represented the RSPCA at all stages of the largest ever prosecution brought by the Society, RSPCA v Gray and others, which case resulted in multiple judicial reviews that set out the ambit and applicability of numerous sections of the Animal Welfare Act 2006. Iain has advised the RSPCA on various areas of policy in the past, including advising on its status as a charity and the extent of its powers as a private prosecutor.

To reserve a place at the above meeting please email


Discussion about legal personhood

20 February 2015

The UK Human Rights Blog have posted an interesting article entitled ‘Slaves, animals and Lord Mansfield’.

The article starts:

A fascinating riff has been playing around the London Review of Books since Stephen Sedley (erstwhile Sedley LJ) reviewed a biography of the 18th century judge Lord Mansfield… but the excellent letters of response are open access.

Mansfield is perhaps best known by commercial lawyers for injecting into the hitherto archaic English commercial law some element of rationality. But he also ended up trying cases involving the ownership of slaves, and had therefore to decide how ownership fitted in with things like habeas corpus.

Click here to read the full article on the UK Human Rights Blog.

Landmark animal testing case referred to EU

16 December 2014

The following report comes to us from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV):

Mr Justice Lewis has today given judgment in the High Court in London on the judicial review brought by the European Federation for Cosmetics Ingredients Manufacturers (EFfCI), which represents 90% of the EU cosmetics ingredients industry.

Yet again, some parts of the animal-testing cosmetics industry are trying to severely weaken the EU animal cosmetics bans, which would allow thousands of animals once more to suffer in cruel cosmetics tests.

Ten years ago, both EFfCI and the French Government tried to have the bans declared unlawful by the European Courts, but failed. Now that the bans are fully in force, EFfCI wants to return to the archaic days of painful, invasive testing on animals, such as hamsters, rabbits and guinea pigs. It is trying to persuade the courts that companies should be allowed to sell, in the EU, cosmetics tested on animals under the laws of other countries. Such a move would severely undermine one of the bans and herald a return to the dark days of animals suffering simply to produce a new hairspray or deodorant.

The BUAV and European Coalition to End Animal Experiments (ECEAE) have been allowed to intervene in this landmark European case about cosmetics testing on animals. Both organisations have strongly opposed EFfCI’s legal arguments. Mr Justice Lewis has now asked for advice about the issues from the Court of Justice of the European Union. He accepted that the BUAV and the ECEAE should be allowed to bring their special expertise to the case – EFfCI had strongly opposed their intervention.

The BUAV and ECEAE were instrumental in achieving the EU ban on cosmetics testing on animals, after the BUAV launched their initial campaign and dedicated over 20 years to achieving an end to animal suffering in the name of beauty, and the sale of new cosmetics products or ingredients tested on animals.

Click here to visit the BUAV website.

Lion Ark Gala Screening

25 November 2014

Special Gala Screening of Lion Ark, the award-winning documentary about Animal Defenders International’s rescue of 25 lions from circuses in Bolivia

“The feel-good movie of the year” – Reel Talk

After banning circuses, Bolivia brought back Animal Defenders International to track down those that were defying the law and to get the lions back. The film will take “you to the heart of a rescue – the fear, the joy and the story of the real stars – the lions – as they transform on their journey to freedom.”

Saturday 6th December 2014 at 6.30pm, at Prince Charles Cinema, Leicester Square (plus selected cinemas nationwide). Tickets £11.

There will also be a Q & A and the chance to meet the rescuers and various celebrity supporters at the Ruby Blue Bar opposite the cinema (with vegan food and wine) at the special fundraising event (fundraising ticket £29).

For more information and to book tickets go to or call (office hours) 020 7630 3340.

Please support this event if you can!

Cats and the Law

30 October 2014

Cats and the LawCats and the Law – a plain English guide

The Cat Group, the collaborative group of animal charities and organisations working on cat health and welfare, has published a new booklet entitled ‘Cats and the Law – a plain English guide’. The authors, Dr Angus Nurse, Senior Lecturer in Criminology at Middlesex University School of Law, and Diane Ryland, Senior Lecturer at the Law School at the University of Lincoln, worked with the Cat Group to produce a research paper and also the plain English guide to Cats and the Law.

The guide is a summary of current law relating to cats, primarily the Animal Welfare Act 2006 and its introduction of a positive obligation to promote and observe animal welfare in companion animals. The guide also summarises the law on the keeping and care of a cat, issues relating to the sale or theft of cats and damage either caused by or caused to a cat. There is also a section answering some of the most frequent questions people ask about cats and their legal status so that most of what cats owners, breeders and rehoming institutes would want to know is contained within this guide.

Claire Bessant, Chief Executive of International Cat Care, which founded and acts as secretariat for the Cat Group says,‘Questions regarding the legal status of cats and what people can and cannot do in different circumstances have arisen in Cat Group meetings for many years. There are lots of grey areas where individuals and organisations want to understand what can be done, how they can act and where they stand according to the law. In some cases there is no definite answer, but the guide helps to outline what law is appropriate in different circumstances and how to think logically about what can be done. It is a highly valuable addition to our knowledge.’

Diane Ryland adds, ‘There is a case to be made for interpreting the law as it stands, in all its denominations – statutory and the common law, civil and criminal law – in order to ensure the welfare of each individual cat. It is necessary, in so doing, to reinforce the positive and negative duty to ensure mental and physical feline care on the part of all persons as well as responsible ownership.’

Angus Nurse concludes, ‘While the plain English guide is about cats and the duty to provide good standards of feline welfare, it also shows how UK animal welfare law has changed to require a positive approach to animal welfare not just the outlawing of acts of cruelty. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 promotes good standards of animal care for all companion animals and a responsible approach to sharing a home with a feline companion. It requires that those responsible for a cat must consider the welfare of each individual cat. Arguably it represents an end to a ‘standard’ approach to animal care and ushers in an era of informed, responsible animal care backed up by solid enforcement provisions.’

The guide can be found on the Cat Group website –

RSPCA prosecution review

6 October 2014

The independent review of the prosecution activity of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals – report published this week.

The independent review of the RSPCA’s prosecution activity has concluded that the Society should continue its role as a prosecuting body, but has recommended a re-positioning of the charity’s long-standing enforcement role to bring it up to date with 21st expectations of transparency and accountability.

Read the report and the RSPCA response.

Steven Wise on Law in Action

20 August 2014

Steven WiseEarlier this year, ALAW invited Steven Wise, American attorney and President of the Nonhuman Rights Project to speak about the group’s legal battle to change the common law status of at least some nonhuman animals from mere “things,” which lack the capacity to possess any legal right, to “persons,” who possess such fundamental rights such as bodily integrity and bodily liberty. Following the talk, he was invited to give an interview on the prestigious Law in Action radio programme.

For those who missed the talk, it can be heard again – follow link

An earlier BBC interview on the Nonhuman Rights Project, can also be heard at

Should primates be kept as pets? Join the conference.

1 May 2015

Register by 15th May for the Primate Conference, coordinated by the Born Free Foundation and Humane Society International/UK, in association with the Nocturnal Primate Research Group at Oxford Brookes University.

Date: Thursday May 29th 2014, 10:00am start.
Venue: Directory of Social Change, 24 Stephenson Way, London NW1 2DP.
Price: £35 (Concessions £25). Refreshments and a light lunch included.
Booking: Click here to register online.

Focussing on the animal welfare science, veterinary, legal, conservation and ethical aspects of the private keeping of non-human primates, this conference will feature a series of talks by international academics, veterinarians, and political and legal experts.

The event will be chaired by Asha Tanna with an introduction by Ian Redmond.

For more information see the Bornfree website.