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Aug 30, 2011

Animal rights, the new feeding ground for lawyers.

“The uncontested absurdities of today are the accepted slogans of tomorrow. – Ayn Rand

What ever happened to the good old days when idiots who came up with stupid ideas were laughed at or ignored? Now they usually have a substantial research grant and regarded as authorities on various subjects.

Some time ago the issue was raised here of an Australian research lecturer Dr John Hadley from the University of Western Sydney (UWS) calling for a system of land rights to be established for animals.

Hadley said under his proposal, particular animals would be given legal property rights, and human guardians would be appointed to represent them in court, claiming giving animals legal ownership of their habitat might be the key to protecting biodiversity. He said people who wanted to modify habitat on their property would have to negotiate with guardians through an independent tribunal before taking any action.

An episode of the ABC production, Landline, is quite revealing of the way lawyers are moving into animal litigation, which appears to be the new litigation area of the future:

SHAUN MURPHY, REPORTER: At the University of Sydney, these law students are learning about property trust for companion animals. But as part of their final-year elective, they'll also cover issues directly related to Australian agriculture.

CELESTE BLACK, UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY: We talk about the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and similar acts across the states. We look at free range - so standards for something to be technically called free range, and just used it as a bit of a comparison, talk about enforcement issues. We also are going to spend - because of the amount of interest in the issue, we're also going to spend a class looking at the live export.

SHAUN MURPHY: There are now nine Australian universities, soon to be 10, teaching animal law to the nation's future lawyers.

Interest in animal law extends well beyond Australia's university law schools. It's now a growing field of legal practice, with specialist law firms. There's even a former High Court judge now acting as patron of an animal rights group. It's early days yet, but it's going to have major implications for farming.

Peter Stevenson is a lawyer and lobbyist with Compassion in World Farming. He's been in Australia as a guest of the animal rights group Voiceless. At this lecture for the Law Society of New South Wales, he's explaining how the law has been used to drive major reforms in Europe, such as enshrining in law that farm animals be treated as sentient beings. …
What we appear to have here is the situation where lawyers have seen potential income in vast quantities coming from the area of animal activism and are moving in for the kill. Essentially they are riding the animal welfare extremism bandwagon to lobby for laws that will result in the sort of feeding frenzy that other litigatory areas have given them in the past.


  1. Best you have a good look at the UN's Agenda 21.
    Human habitation areas, no-go areas for humans, animals to be given a higher status than humans.
    All human habitats (all high rise) will be built alongside a Railway track (High speed rail links - ring any bells).
    The future is going to be feckin' great.

  2. And here is Angry Exile's Speculative News from 30th August the year after next. Lawyers have today filed a class action against a Wodonga housewife on behalf of an entire bottle of Yakult. It is alleged that Mrs Preposition's neglect deprived the bacteria of a home when she forgot to drink it last Wednesday morning when the kids were late for school.

    The world's gone fucking mad and it's going to get madder.

  3. Stay optimistic, its coming to a climax where every move they make is contributing to the mounting outrage against them.

    Rather than the GW frantics prediction that future generations will be ashamed of us if we fail to act, I am inclined to think that future generations will look back at the stupidity of current thinking and shudder at the thought of being descended from us.

    Descent from chimps will have far more kudos to it than from any of our current politicians, activists, or general human hating frantics.

  4. I realised later that I didn't extend my silly scenario as far as I could have, and there's a few potential upsides if we're all, animals included, equal before the law. For example, two or three people a year die from snake bites and while I'm sure the snakes concerned have reacted in fear killing is OTT and might be grounds for a wrongful death suit. Obviously animals don't have money and even if they did only marsupials have got deep pockets (sorry, couldn't resist it, I'll get me coat), so any liability would have to end up with the human guardians who've been appointed, or more like appointed themselves, to be responsible for them. On a more mundane level I'd be happier if having to continually wash bird shit off the car before it ruins the paint was a tort and the magpie and lorikeet men would give me a hundred bucks or so a year towards it. And I wouldn't want to be the guy responsible for termites here because the insurance industry will want a hell of a lot of money for all the property damage his charges cause. So bring it on. What's good for the goose may cost it's legal guardian ;-)

  5. The mention of magpies takes this to a whole new level. The group here are especially agro during the nesting season despite the fact that on numerous occasions I have rescued their chicks when they have fallen out of the nest.

    They harass, intimidate, and bully me to the point where on occasions I have taken to wearing a hard hat around the place.

    I probably have a good case for a harassment suit along with a DVO, and oh the mental anguish this causes. I can sue for a fortune.

  6. Like every profession, the right to advocacy too has its pros and cons. But coming to think of it Animal Welfare law at large in Australia has become a popular topic of discussion .Even the Australian government is known to have supported in various organizations' development , particularly the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). Australia has participated in the working groups that developed the current OIE guidelines covering animal welfare for slaughter, air, land and sea transport and emergency slaughter for disease control.