1. The Bill defines the animals to which it relates as being animals which are vertebrate and to something which the Bill calls a "protected animal". By definition there are three such categories.

    xx (a) those which are "commonly domesticated" in the British Isles.

    (b) animals under the control of man whether permanently or temporarily.

    (c) an animal not living in a wild state.

    However, what is also clear is that all mammals are in fact protected (whether wild or not because of amendments to the Wild Mammals (Protection) Act 1996 in that the definition section of that Act is changed so as to include all mammals that are not "protected animals" within the meaning of this Bill.

  2. The Bill sets out to define what is unnecessary suffering and the persons who may be responsible / guilty of an offence in relation to such matters. I have no doubt that this will be interpreted in much the same way as the current legislation, but a new concept is introduced concerning knowing or ought reasonably to have known that the conduct would cause unnecessary suffering. This removes the offence from a simple objective test, to one which involves an element of subjective knowledge or some kind of test involving what is reasonable for someone to know.

  3. Specific offences are created in relation to mutilating animals S.5, administering poisons S.6 and using animals for fighting S.7. All these may be laudable aims but unfortunately the definition sections are very poorly drafted and will in my view cause real practical problems.

  4. S.8 creates a further new concept and an offence if a person fails to take steps to meet the needs of an animal. This is a really difficult concept and one which is likely to be very difficult to know when an offence is or is not being committed. The real problem is that it is an offence to not take steps to meet an animals welfare needs. This in my view involves a very subjective approach to what those are and will create a great deal of debate from all areas. The door is opened to any viewpoint being possibly accepted.

  5. It is an offence to sell or transfer ownership of an animal to a person under 16 unless in the presence of an adult or that it is within a family context

  6. Regulations can be made to "promote welfare", license or create registration in respect of various activities E.G. Pet Shops, boarding and similar activities which are currently the subject of several different Acts.
    The authority can also issue Codes of Practice.
    Unfortunately none of the regulations are even at a draft stage and the effect of these regulations cannot be judged.

  7. Powers are created under S.16 in relation to animals in "distress". These authorise veterinary surgeons, inspectors and constables to seize, and/or destroy animals without the consent or even consultation with the owner.

  8. S. 17 gives power to inspectors and constables to enter premises without warrant for the purposes of enforcing S.16, but limited to any premises which are not used as a private dwelling. There is power to obtain a warrant and reasonable force may be used to gain entry.

  9. S.18 empowers Courts to make orders concerning the animals up to and including making destruction orders and if necessary they can do so without the owner being consulted. The major problem with this is the fact that it appears that these orders can be made without there having been a conviction or proof that an offence has been committed. Further, as the procedure is by way of complaint it is technically a "civil" action and thus no legal representation order can be made.
    If the Court has made an order and empowered people to carry it out, it is an offence to obstruct such a person carrying out the Courts order.
    The cost involved in all of this can be ordered against the person responsible for the animal.

  10. There is particular provision in relation to animals used for fighting and a constable may seize and enter premises without a warrant in pursuit of such offences, but cannot enter a dwelling without a warrant. Warrants may be granted for this purpose.

  11. S. 20 contains the general powers to issue warrants. However, this cannot be taken in isolation in that S.46 sets out the grounds upon which a warrant may be granted.

  12. Sections 21 to 25 inclusive contains the power to make inspections where licences have been issued and when registration has taken place. Further, Farms may be inspected and all may be inspected for compliance with EEC obligations.

  13. Gives specific power to Local Authorities to prosecute.

  14. Section 27 sets out the time limits for prosecutions, which is Three years. There is also a very odd part which suggests that the prosecutor (not defined) can issue a notice specifying when sufficient knowledge to commence proceedings came to his notice and his certificate is conclusive. This means that it is unchallengeable. After so certifying the proceedings can then be commenced up to six months later. The problem is that the section does not say that it is the shorter of the two periods which is the relevant time for the commencement of the proceedings. It follows that this can mean that they can be begun 3years 6months (less one day) after the event.
    Further the consequence is that it is unlikely, even with such a delay, that an abuse of process argument would succeed.

  15. S.28 sets out the penalties for the offences and all are expressed to be a maximum of 51 weeks imprisonment and/or fines or both. The level of fines vary, but for the offences against S.4 to 7 the maximum is £20,000.
    So far as the breach of regulation offences are concerned they are left unspecified and power is given to make those in the regulations themselves, once again 51 weeks and/or level 5 fines or both are set as the possible maximum.
    None of these penalties can be greater than 6months custody and level 5 fines until S.281 (5) of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 is brought into force. It should be noted that as yet there is no commencement date for this.

  16. Sections 29 and 30 deal with orders that the Court may make upon conviction regarding deprivation and disqualification.
    The powers are considerably greater than the current equivalent power.

  17. The previous sections only deal with animals subject of the proceedings but S.31 deals with the position of other animals which a disqualified person may own and which they could not then have, following the disqualification. This empowers the Court to make orders in respect of them and to dispose of them including making an order to destroy them.
    S.32 then allows the Court to appoint someone to carry out the Courts order and also make the defendant pay for that cost.
    Unfortunately there is no provision to make such persons accountable to the court for their actions. The Court can give directions, but how do they check and what is the consequence if the order is not operated as the Court directs?

  18. S.33 allows the Court to make a destruction order and order the person whose animal has been destroyed to pay for it. S.34 creates a specific power in relation to animals used for fighting even where there is no requirement in the interests of the animal, which is the prerequisite in S.33.

  19. S.35 deals with specific orders for payment of expenses to do with animals kept for fighting.

  20. S.36 deals with forfeiture of equipment used in connection with offences under sections 4 to 7 inclusive.

  21. S.37 details the Courts powers where notice of appeal is served and in particular says that none of the orders to do with destruction and forfeiture can be carried out until the period allowed for appeal, with one exception. However the Court can make orders to seize and retain pending the hearing of an appeal. Once again they can make the defendant pay for all of this. It is a separate offence to dispose of an animal pending appeal.

  22. S.38 deals with the effect on licences after conviction. They do not have to cancel the licence, but may do so.

  23. S.39 deals with provision for making application for removal of a disqualification. The earliest point of time being 12 months after conviction.

  24. Sections 40 to 44 deal with the effect in Scotland of orders made in England or Wales.

  25. S.45 defines who can be an "inspector", without saying who these may be.

  26. S.46 sets out the conditions for the grant of warrants. All of the individual entry powers and powers to obtain warrants require that one of the conditions must be satisfied before a warrant can be granted. This section makes it clear that any one of the four conditions must exist. However, the fourth condition allows for the issue without the occupier being informed if to do so would defeat the purpose of entry or it is a matter of urgency. When is anyone seeking a warrant not going to use this provision?

  27. Sections 47 to 49 deal with powers of entry, inspection, stopping and searching vehicles and even boats, aircraft and hovercraft.

  28. S.50 deals with production of documents and seizure powers. It is an offence not to produce any such documents once the requirement has been made.

  29. S. 51 makes an officer of a corporate body liable to prosecution as well as the corporate body where the act or default can be attributed to such persons.

  30. S. 52 and 53 exempts from liability some scientific research and fishing.

  31. S. 54 exempts the Crown from prosecution and prevents entry onto the Queens property.

  32. S. 55 relates to powers of the Welsh Assembly.

  33. S. 56 creates definitions of some terms used in the Act.

  34. Sections 57 to 63 sets out financial, amendments, repeals, transitional and areas covered by the Bill.

    All of this concerns the making of regulations with regard to Licences and Registration in connection with section 11. This also includes power to amend legislation and to create offences and set penalties.
    There is no indication how these regulations will be phrased or what activities will be the subject of this kind of regulation. In theory they could regulate almost any activity to do with animals, not just those which are currently so regulated.

    This supposedly clarifies the powers of entry, inspection and search and what such persons may do. It is an offence to obstruct a person exercising their powers BUT it is also an offence for a "qualifying person" not to provide assistance to those persons investigating, without a reasonable excuse. The effect is that not only are you raided, but commit an offence if you don't help the raiders!

    Lists amendments to other Acts. This needs careful examination as some of these are significant alterations to existing Acts.

    Lists repeals of other Acts. Surprisingly it does not repeal the whole of the 1911 Act, nor the whole of the Pet Animals Act 1951.

    I say surprisingly, because for example the section which is disputed with regard to PET FAIRS is still in place. There is sufficient powers taken in the making of regulations that other consequential repeals may later take place.

The author, Granville Rooley, is accepted by the Legal Services Commission as having an area of expertise in all types of animal cases and has been conducting such cases for the last 19 years.

Mr. Rooley has also defended general criminal defence cases for the last 21 years and before that was a prosecutor for 11 years.

He can be contacted by e-mail:


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