Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand

Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand

By Deborah Cao, Katrina Sharman, Steven White


$95.00 RRP

Date: 15/07/2010

Code: 9780455226187

Lawbook Co., AUSTRALIA


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Laws governing the treatment of animals have been in place in the legal systems of Australia and New Zealand for many years, however, the study of animal law as an academic discipline and as part of legal education is a recent development in Australasia. Written by Deborah Cao (Griffith University), with chapters by Steven White (Griffith University) and Katrina Sharman (Voiceless), and a foreword by the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand aims to contribute to establishing and furthering animal law as an independent branch of legal study in these countries.

Part I of the book considers the philosophical, scientific and historical aspects of the treatment of animals in relation to law, providing background against which animal law can be examined as a discipline and a branch of law. It considers the legal status of animals and discusses animal protection within the existing legal framework.

Part II of the book focuses on animal law in practice in Australia and New Zealand, covering animal welfare law and the key provisions of the relevant laws. Later chapters detail the regulation of the treatment of companion animals, farm animals, wild animals and animals used in research.

Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand is a factual and analytical text. It has been written for university law students undertaking animal law, animal welfare law or animal rights courses. Academics interested in animal welfare and the environment in general, lawyers who are interested in animal welfare and environment, animal rights advocates, and general readers with an interest in animal welfare will also find this book informative.

Part I Fundamentals of Animal Law
Chapter One: Animals: Morality, Science, and Justice
Chapter Two: Historical Development of Animal Law
Chapter Three: Legal Status of Animals

Part II Animal Law in Practice
Chapter Four: Overview of Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand
Chapter Five: Key Provisions of Animal Welfare Legislation
Chapter Six: Regulation of the Treatment of Companion Animals
Chapter Seven: Regulation of the Treatment of Farm Animals
Chapter Eight: Regulation of Wild Animal Welfare
Chapter Nine: Regulation of Animal Testing

"Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand is a great text, which has been written very clearly. I can tell the hours of legal research that the authors have undertaken to create this work. It is one of the most scholarly books written for the Animal Law field that I have read. The authors deal with topics at a level of depth that should make it very useful for both teaching and practicing law. Congratulations to the authors on a job well done, and a step forward for the animals. " Professor David Favre, Editor-in-Chief, Animal Legal & Historical Web Center, Michigan State University College of Law (

“It fills me with optimism and hope to see the level of current activity in Animal Law, of which this book is a major recent example … it seems to be exactly the kind of book that the Australian Animal Law scene has up to now been missing – a general, well written text covering the core issues”Geoff Bloom, Partner, HWL Ebsworth Lawyers, Sydney, and teacher of the first Animal Law course in Australia, at UNSW

About the authors
Deborah Cao is a Professor at Griffith University, Australia. She has published in the areas of legal theory, legal language, Chinese law and legal culture and animal law. In recent years, she has been involved in the teaching of animal law at Griffith University and joined the Oxford Centre for Animal Ethics (UK) as a Fellow.

Katrina Sharman  is Corporate Counsel for Voiceless, the animal protection institute, a nonprofit organisation which seeks to bring the institutionalised suffering of animals to the forefront of Australia’s agenda.
The book will be launched as part of Voiceless’s 2010 Animal Law Lecture Series.
Find out more about Voiceless at 

Steven White is a lecturer at Griffith Law School, Australia. He has published widely on animal law, and teaches an undergraduate course in animal law. He is also a consultant to the first law firm in Australia to specialise in animal law. Steven is currently writing his PhD on the regulation of the treatment of companion and farmed animals in Australia.


Editorial Reviews

Reviewed by: David Glasgow
Vice-President, Lawyers for Animals inc.

In the foreword to this textbook, former High Court judge Michael Kirby writes that “there is nothing so powerful in the world as an idea whose time has come”. Animal Law in Australia and New Zealand is ostensibly a black-letter exposition of legislation and case law relating to animals. However, as Michael Kirby perceptively appreciates, it is also a sign that animal protection discourse may have finally achieved mainstream status.

The overall purpose of this text is to present animal legislation and jurisprudence dispassionately. Those looking for stinging critiques of animal laws are unlikely to find them here, except that merely outlining the actual laws is often sufficient to highlight their inadequacy. Instead, this text is an essential reference for students, academics and practitioners in animal law.

Part 1 provides an overview of the evolution of modern attitudes towards animals, and how our laws evolved alongside our philosophies to extend protection to animals from cruelty. Part 2 examines animal statutes across New Zealand and each Australian state and territory and how these statutes protect (or, usually, fail to protect) animals. This discussion covers companion, farm, wild and research animals.

There are a couple of unique features that make this book most valuable. The first is that it synthesises relevant legislative provisions and regulatory regimes from different jurisdictions; it is therefore a one-stop reference for comparative legal analysis. The second is that it intersperses the analysis of statutes with an extensive collection of case law, including a number of unreported Magistrates’ Court decisions that would otherwise remain unknown and unanalysed.

Animal law is, quite rightly, commonly subjected to critique for its weak cruelty protection, unprincipled exemptions and poor enforcement mechanisms. This existing body of critical literature may be inadequate for those looking for a basic introduction to what animal statutes actually say, and how they are interpreted and applied by the courts. This book fills the gap. Given the rising interest in animal law activism, its release is not a moment too soon.

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