Animal Law


What we do

The Animal Law Committee comprises of a group of over 400 members interested in animal welfare and laws regulating the treatment of animals. Using its members' collective knowledge, the Animal Law Committee aims to raise awareness about the role of the law in animal welfare and provide education to the legal profession and wider community, while increasing understanding about the importance of protecting animals from abuse and neglect.

The Committee's members are a diverse range of individuals, including law students to practitioners in large commercial firms, sole practitioners, and government and in-house lawyers. However, a common theme amongst Committee members is a passion and desire to use our legal skills and the law to help improve the lives of animals.

Our initiatives

The Committee takes a proactive approach to animal protection, using a variety of mediums and initiatives to promote the protection of animals. Many of our activities, such as our Annual Animal Law Essay competition, are designed to foster interest in and the development of Animal Law in Australia.

Guest Speakers

Each ALC meeting features a guest speaker or a committee member who presents on a particular topic in the field of animal law or animal policy. Below is a list of our most recent speakers and topics.

  • Ashley Avci (ALC member) – laws regulating the treatment of dolphins in captivity in NSW
  • Associate Professor Ed Couzens – laws and policies regulating whaling activities
  • Meg Good (Animal Law Institute) – the development of animal law and the major issues in the field
  • Malcolm Caulfield (Animal Law Institute) – recent animal law history: the highs and lows
  • Hannah Stuart (Humane Research Australia) – Regulation of animal use in research and teaching
  • Sarah Margo (Voiceless) – live export
  • Emmanuel Giuffre (Voiceless) – intersection between animal law and politics and pathways into animal law
  • Sophie Riley (UTS, Faculty of Law) – laws governing the treatment of invasive animals
  • Ingrid Giskes (WAP) – WAP’s advocacy and policy reform, including the Animal Protection Index

Seminars and CLEs

The ALC regularly holds seminars and CLEs which anyone can attend (regardless of whether they are an ALC member). Past seminars and CLEs have covered a range of topics including the Charitable status and tax exemptions for animal welfare organisations, the admissibility of unlawfully obtained evidence and the ICJ whaling decision. Details of future seminars and CLEs will be posted here.


A large part of what the ALC does is write submissions to government on issues relating to animal protection.


The Committee also prepares fact sheets and booklets to assist the public in navigating the laws that relate to the treatment of animals. Please contact us if there is an area of animal law that you think we should cover.

Animal Law Essay Competition 2018

Who we are

Chair: Daniel Cung
Vice Chair: Gillian Shaw
Secretary: Giulia Prosperi-Porta


What is animal law?

Animal Law is the field of law that specialises in issues pertaining to animals. For instance, a number of animal protection organisations utilise legal remedies to protect the interests of animals in the context of: 

  • commercial whaling;
  • live export;
  • factory farming;
  • the protection of endangered species;
  • the use of animals for entertainment, including zoos, rodeos and circuses;
  • the use of animals in fashion and cosmetics;
  • cruelty to domestic animals including tail docking and dog-fighting;
  • scientific research and teaching;
  • the culling of wild animals and introduced / invasive species.

For example, the Australian government challenged Japanese whaling in the Antarctic in the International Court of Justice in proceedings commenced in in 2010 and decided in 2014 by a finding by a majority of the Court that Japan's whaling program was not authorised under the International Whaling Convention.

Similarly, Animals Australia (a private charity) was responsible for ensuring animal cruelty charges were laid against a leading Western Australian live export company in relation to a shipment of sheep that departed Fremantle bound for the Middle East in 2002.
Animal protection organisations also regularly challenge the decisions of Ministers and Government Departments through the process of administrative review and play a role in law reform impacting upon animals.

Defamation has increasingly become an area of law to which animal advocates have turned their attention, with individuals and organisations who report acts of animal cruelty becoming the target of defamation proceedings.

Animal Law also encompasses consumer protection legislation. One recent example is the spate of Australian Competition and Consumer Commission cases concerning breaches of the Australian Consumer Law by egg producers and the subsequent introduction of a national egg labelling standard.

Animal lawyers provide assistance to individuals in a range of situations. For instance, the work of an animal lawyer may include providing anti-discrimination advice to people with guide dogs or other assistance animals, assisting people to draft their wills so that provision is made for their companion animals, and acting on family law disputes involving pets.

These are but a few of the areas in which an animal lawyer potentially practises.

What does the Committee do?   

The Animal Law Committee undertakes a range of activities aiming to advance the interests of animals and improve their protection under the law. Key activities of the Committee include:

  • drafting submissions to local, State and Federal governments regarding legislation and decision making processes under the law that impact upon the welfare of animals;
  • an annual essay competition open to law students and practitioners; 
  • an Animal Law Conference featuring speakers including experts in Animal Law, politicians and animal welfare advocates;
  • producing publications and fact sheets for practitioners and the community regarding various areas of Animal Law, including companion animals, live export, keeping pets in strata schemes and food labelling; and
  • the presentation of continuing legal education (CLE) seminars in relation to Animal Law.

How do I get involved in the Animal Law Committee? 

The Animal Law Committee encourages its members to get involved by attending monthly Committee meetings and volunteering on current Committee projects. To join the Committee, you do not need to be an expert in the field of Animal Law, just passionate about the cause. 

To become a member of our committee, please subscribe to our email list.

The Committee meets once per month at The Law Society (excluding December and January) to discuss Committee projects and hear from speakers who are active in the field of Animal Law or animal welfare. You can view the full list of dates here.

How can I get involved in Animal Law? 

You may be aware that the Law Society of NSW offers a Solicitor Referral Service (SRS) for members of the public requiring legal assistance. One aspect of the service, for people experiencing financial hardship, is referral to a legal practitioner willing to provide pro bono legal assistance. 

What this means for you, is that you are able to register with the Law Society's SRS as a practitioner willing to provide pro bono Animal Law advice and assistance to members of the public in relation to a wide range of Animal Law issues.

If you practise in (or have an interest in) any of the following areas of law, you may be able to provide pro bono animal law advice and assistance:

  • Administrative Law
  • Business Law
  • Constitutional Law
  • Contract Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Defamation
  • Discrimination
  • Family Law
  • Property Law
  • Tort Law
  • Trade Practices
  • Wills & Estates

For further information about providing pro bono Animal Law advice and assistance, please contact the Law Society's Solicitor Referral Service.

Other ways to be more involved in animal law is through volunteering with an animal protection organisation such as Voiceless, Animals Australia or the Animal Law Institute.

and programs

Join us

The Animal Law Committee encourages its members to get involved by attending monthly Committee meetings and volunteering on current Committee projects. To join the Committee, you do not need to be an expert in the field of Animal Law, just passionate about the cause. 

The Committee meets once per month at The Law Society (excluding December and January) to discuss Committee projects and hear from speakers who are active in the field of Animal Law or animal welfare. You can view the full list of dates here.



Updated on a monthly basis, CaseWatch provides a list of relevant domestic and international cases related to the practise of Animal Law.


Our Committee focuses on shaping and challenging government policy and legislation in relation to animal protection. We have written numerous letters and submissions to federal, state and local governments as part of our efforts to improve the treatment and legal status of animals in Australia.

These can be downloaded from the Young Lawyers Submissions form in our main page. For in-depth stories on our policy work, click on the links below.

ACT's Draft Kangaroo Management Plan

Ban on the importation of certain fur products


Companion Animal Law Guide New South Wales - 2nd Edition

The Guide is a useful resource for anyone who owns an animal or is interested in owning an animal and outlines the main legal responsibilities they have and an overview of the laws that may affect them. The Guide is the 2nd edition of the publication which was first launched in 2010 and contains updated references to legislation and a couple of new chapters. The Guide is a key example of how the Committee seeks to raise awareness within the community about the legislative framework that affects animals.

Download the Companion Animal Law Guide New South Wales

Order your free hardcopy through the Law Society Shop

Animal Law Guide New South Wales

This booklet provides an overview of  the day-to-day legal issues affecting pets and pet owners in NSW. It was launched on 6 September 2010 at an event attended by The Honourable Michael Kirby AC CMG, former Justice of the High Court of Australia. We unfortunately don't have any hard copies left, please download the PDF below.

Download the Animal Law Guide New South Wales

What about me? Your pets & your will

The Committee’s new brochure What about me? Your pets & your will, is a plain language information resource designed to help pet owners understand the options available when preparing a will. It was launched on 17 February 2009.

Download the brochure What about me? Your pets & your will

Download more information about Pets and Wills

Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes

The 4th edition of this brief guide, published in 2005, is aimed at tenants, agents and owners. It includes information on the Strata Schemes Management Act.

Download Keeping Pets in Strata Schemes