Full Title Name:  Voiceless Animal Law Toolkit

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Voiceless Australia Place of Publication:  Australia Publish Year:  2009 Primary Citation:  www.voiceless.org.au ISBN Number:  ISBN: 978-0-9803740-5-6 (online)

Overview of the state of Animal Law in Australia.

Documents:  PDF icon Voiceless_Animal_Law_2009.pdf (1.88 MB)

The Animal Law Toolkit

Published by Voiceless, the Animal Welfare Institute

(Dec. 2009)


For full 23 page pdf document, see attached file.




Animal law is a cutting edge area of law which is

rapidly expanding. In recent years there has been

a proliferation in scholarly writing on the subject,

an increased demand for animal law courses

in universities and the founding of numerous

organizations whose sole aim is to promote the

protection of animals. The President of the Australian

Law Reform Commission, Professor David Weisbrot

AM, summed up these changes when he described

animal law as ‘potentially the next great social justice



In recognition of the growing interest in animal law,

Voiceless has prepared this ‘Animal Law Toolkit’ to

introduce students, academics, legal practitioners, law

firms and animal protectionists to key issues in the

field. The Toolkit is intended to provide:

• individuals with information about key animal law


• students with the tools to request animal law

courses at their university; and

• law firms and legal practitioners with reasons

to expand their practice areas to include animal

law matters, with a view to facilitating the

administration of justice for animals.

We hope that as debate and discussion about

the institutionalised suffering of animals gathers

momentum, this Toolkit will serve as a helpful starting

point for those seeking to provide animals with the

justice they deserve.


Brian Sherman AM & Ondine Sherman

Managing Directors and Co-founders


Katrina Sharman

Corporate Counsel


1.1 Animal Law

As our understanding of animal behaviour and

intelligence has increased, there has been broad

acceptance that animals are sentient creatures

who should be able to live free from suffering and

abuse. Unfortunately, we live in an era where more

animals are suffering than ever before. The law has

an important role to play in protecting animals from

exploitation and cruelty. However, the current legal

regime is proving grossly inadequate.

Both the common law and Australian statute

law classify animals as ‘things’.2 This is the same

classification given to objects or pieces of property.

People, on the other hand, are classified as legal

persons. This distinction is crucial as it determines

who ‘counts’ for legal purposes.3 Only legal persons

are given a voice in our legal system and afforded

protection through the possession of legal rights.

‘Things’, being unable to possess rights, are the

property of legal persons and can therefore be

subjected to gross abuse and exploitation.

In recognition of this problem, two streams of law

have developed that aim to provide animals with

greater protection:


1. Animal welfare law

Animal welfare is a philosophy which is concerned

with regulating the use of animals to reduce

unnecessary pain and suffering. ‘Animal welfarists’

do not seek to question the status of animals as

property.4 Rather, welfarists argue that animals should

be treated humanely within the existing paradigm of

animal use.5 To this end, the primary goal of welfarists

is to improve existing anti-cruelty legislation to

reduce unnecessary suffering.


2. Animal rights law

Animal rights law seeks to question animals’ wellentrenched

status as property, with a view to securing

fundamental rights for (at least some) animals.

Animal rights lawyers do not argue that animals

should be given the same rights as humans. Rather,

different animals require different rights depending

on their needs and capabilities.6 The fundamental

tenet of animal rights law is that the law should not

treat animals as mere ‘things’. This is based on the

assumption that unless animals have rights, they will

continue to be treated by society as resources to

satisfy human wants and needs.


For full 23 page  document: .pdf   link – 1,921 kb

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