Here’s how law’s sentient animal could change everything - again

In 1820, when Member of Parliament Martin championed the idea of introducing laws to protect animals from cruelty, he was criticised, ridiculed and laughed at by fellow MP’s. Following the persistence of early advocates, animal protection laws were implemented first to protect animals from acts of blatant cruelty, and then progressed to ensure wider protections from their pain and distress.

Each step has had an enormous impact not just on the animals, but on people in terms of their responsibilities when using animals (e.g. entertainment, companionship), the raising and eating animals (e.g. animal husbandry systems, transportation standards, and effects on food quality and safety) and what society considered to be acceptable treatment of animals.

It’s been a 200 year journey from no protection, to anticruelty protections, to animal welfare obligations. And the next step monumental step is the change that will accompany recognition of animals as having emotions, “experiencers of their own life” – or, in the language of the law, “sentient”.

If you didn’t already know, there are jurisdictions who’s law categorically states that animals are sentient. And while people are debating what that means, some leaders have accepted its inclusion and are turning their minds to forms of control. So what does – or could – this mean for people, society, industry, and animals - this time?

The 2017 Guardianz seminar series brings you experts from around the world to show you where animal law is going, and to let you know what the changes means for them, and for you.



Seminar Details

  • Date:
  • How:
  • Time:
  • Location:
  • CPD Units:
  • 30 May 2017 - 2 June 2017
  • 2 Presentations per day
  • 12pm AEST and 6:30pm AEST
  • Online! - just find
    a place to view
    your computer
  • 5 Units

Seminar Cost

  • Early bird (before 1 May) - $375p/p
  • Full price (after 1 May) - $450p/p


8:30 a.m.: Arrival

9:30 a.m. Welcome and Introduction: “The need for competent lawyers in the courtroom, the boardroom, and multiple places in between” (Co-presented by Daniel Goldsworthy and Ian Robertson)

Media, the community, and the legal system often reverse the principle of “innocent until proven guilty” in matters where it is alleged that an animal has suffered. Prosecutors themselves have expressed surprise at how many defence counsel “roll-over” straight to discussing the penalty and potential mitigating factors. And every defence counsel knows that the prosecution doesn’t always get it right. Providing an adequate defence is not condoning ill treatment of animals, but it is supporting the principles of justice, and demonstrating the performance expected of a competent lawyer. In order to provide the appropriate reference for the rest of the day’s presentations, the introduction reviews how the law defines animal welfare, and provides a quick summary of the relevant offences, available penalties, and the defences. Like most other areas of law, animal welfare legislation also provides a defence of “reasonableness”. But it’s a tall order for a defence counsel to argue reasonableness when they have no idea about what’s reasonable on the farm. That’s what the next presenter will address.

What’s “reasonable” in terms of animal care? (Dr Kathryn Robertson. Ex-Animal Health Officer (Victoria, Australia), Veterinarian and Farm Consultant)

An animal’s condition and welfare is not a state in isolation. In contrast, it is a reflection of the interactions between the animal, the environment, and the human caregiver. And there are numerous variables associated with each of those three factors. Some of them are controllable, some of them aren’t. Some factors are foreseeable, while others aren’t. And don’t be fooled because identification, management and resolution of 1000 events in the annual farming calendar and community are not as simple as “buy more feed or sell more stock”. Dr Kathryn Robertson draws on her experience, training and on-farm realities to illustrate principles of what is “reasonable” through the legal lens in terms of highly subjective assessments put forward as evidence in animal welfare cases.

Not all prosecutable cases need to be prosecuted (Vince Peterson, position to be inserted)

Although media reports of cruelty to animals are understandably disturbing, the fact is that the majority of people, greater than 95%, are genuinely trying to do the right thing by their animals. General principles of prosecution recognise that in general, it is much more cost-effective to assist, educate or direct people in terms of standards of appropriate animal care, rather than pursue a prosecution. So in terms of negotiation and mediation on behalf of your client, with a view to avoiding the necessity of litigation, it’s important that you know what realistic options and alternatives are available. Vince Peterson is highly involved in fostering collaboration within farming communities and his presentation draws on his experience with the intent of letting you know about what’s available to keep your client off the firing range or, alternatively, give you insights as to how you might negotiate getting your client off the prosecutors firing range.

Getting behind the usual barriers of disclosure - and when did you last countersue the government? (Daniel Goldsworthy: Dan maybe you can fill this in?)

There are standard principles associated with the disciplines of public and administrative law, and the requirements of procedures like disclosure. In the real world, the theory of what should happen sometimes doesn’t happen. In matters of animal law, that can be disastrous in terms of the effect on your client, and the animals particularly in cases where they are either rehomed, sold or killed ( euthanased”). The reasons for the gap between theory and reality can be attributed to a number of reasons. It might be human error. Issues involving animals are frequently very emotive, demonstrating polarised opinions and frequently the agendas of competing stakeholders. Then there are the usual list of egos, errors, and politicking. So how do you get behind the usual barriers? And what are the options open to you and your client when you have cause to suspect that the usual immunities may have been eroded by ultra-vires actions? This presentation is a review and update of those principles and options as they apply to matters of animal welfare cases.

12 skeletons in the prosecutor’s closet: (Dr Ian A. Robertson. Animal law specialist, Barrister and Solicitor, Veterinarian, Principal Of Guardianz Lawyers and Consultants)

From a prosecution perspective on animal welfare matters, there are a list of points which consistently get overlooked by defence counsel. Referencing cases (which , where indicated, have been amended for the purposes of confidentiality) from almost a decade in enforcement in different jurisdictions (including Australia), this presentation sets out 12 practical points sourced from that list of common oversights, assumptions and shortfalls by defence counsel.

Every industry has their “big players”. Animal law has its own key organisations that are “must know” for lawyers involved in relevant matters. And in the farming sector two of the biggest are Federated Farmers and the Meat and Livestock Association (“MLA”).

Understanding animal welfare standards, regulations, and the role of the MLA: (Professor Jim Rothwell, ….)

MLA are a key stakeholder in matters of animal welfare from a community, education and standards setting perspective. However, even amongst those that have been in the field of animal welfare for quite some time, there is a measure of misunderstanding about MLA’s role. This presentation will ensure that you are one of those lawyers who demonstrates a credible knowledge about the industry, clarity about

MLA’s role,and the robustness of its standard setting activities. These principles are illustrated by MLA representatives by reference to transportation, which is one of the key steps in agriculture’s “farm-to-fork” process that continues to be a significant issue associated with the welfare of the animal, members of the farming community, and larger stakeholder considerations e.g. reputational risk and associated trade opportunities.

Animal welfare from the voice of farming and the farmer = “the Feds” (Mark Harvey-Sutton)

Even those who are not involved in the farming sector have heard about Federated Farmers!This is the organisation that is “the voice of Australian farmers”. There are a few organisations more ably in a position to educate and assist defence lawyers with the issues, objectives and conflicts within the farming industry. Mark Harvey-Sutton heads up the Rural Affairs division of the National Farmer’s Federation who will be able to make sure that you, as a defence lawyer, are in an informed position on matters pertaining to the ever-changing political, social and natural landscapes.You’ll also get an inside look at what is deemed to be modern, viable and sustainable farming; how that links into local, national and international opportunities, and how those activities tie in with the issue of animal law. - which are all important things that the competent defence lawyer must know.

Panel discussion

4:30 p.m.: Seminar concludes



Dr Antoine GOETSCHEL : Animal lawyer, Switzerland

Antoine is a Swiss lawyer based in Zurich with a career focus on animal law. Antoine is widely know for being appointed as the animal welfare lawyer for the Canton of Zurich which was the first position of its kind worldwide, and where Antoine represented the interests of animals in criminal cases as a public official.As a specialist in the human-animal-relationship in Swiss and international law, Antoine has represented animal interests in cruelty cases and he fought successfully for the “dignity of living beings” to be protected by the Swiss Constitution and for animals to be recognised as non-objects in legislation. As one of the world’s leading animal lawyers and a pioneer in this field, Antoine’s experience and vision will undoubtedly prove to be an insightful presentation on the potential future of animal law.


Dr Lindsay BURTON, Fonterra, New Zealand

Dr Lindsay Burton was appointed as a veterinary member of Council by the Minister for Primary Industries in May 2015. Lindsay is General Manager, Veterinary Technical and Risk Management at Fonterra. Lindsay graduated with a BVSc from Massey University in 1975 and spent five years in mixed animal practice. He joined the NZ Dairy Board in 1980, involved in animal breeding. This was followed by a period as Principal Veterinarian at Livestock Improvement Corporation (LIC). Additional roles included the Director of National Animal Identification and Traceability, Principal Scientist Johne's Disease Research Consortium, and Chair of the MPI Farm to Processor Animal Welfare Forum.


Prof Daniel GOLDSWORTHY: Administrative Law, Victoria University Law School, Australia

Daniel is an Academic Teaching Scholar with the College of Law and Justice, and has several years’ experience as a lecturer, tutor and unit coordinator. He is admitted as an Australian Lawyer in the Supreme Court of Victoria. Prior to commencing work as an Academic Teaching Scholar, Daniel worked as a solicitor in civil litigation and property law. He has been involved with teaching at Victoria University since 2008, having taught subjects across both the College of Law and Justice and the College of Sport and Exercise Science. Daniel teaches Introduction to Public Law, Advanced Constitutional Law, Australian Administration Law and Public International Law. Daniel’s areas of interest include international and environmental law, governance and public law.Daniel is also Company Secretary on the Board of Directors of Forest Stewardship Council Australia (FSC Australia), the national arm of a global not-for-profit organisation that seeks to ensure the responsible management of the world’s forests. This role includes the provision of legal advice generally, corporate governance, management of public and private stakeholders as well as contract management with FSC International and its legal department.


Dr Kate Littin, BSc, MSc, PhD, Senior Advisor, Ministry for Primary Industries (New Zealand) Animal Welfare Directorate.

Kate is an expert who applies animal welfare sciences to policy, legislation and animal welfare risk assessment (for both domestic and international animal welfare standards). This work is across all uses and interactions with animals, from livestock production and companion animals to service and working animals and wildlife. She has filled professional roles for over a decade in animal welfare policy and standards (Home Office, UK and New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries) after ten years working in the animal research sector. Her responsibilities include development of New Zealand’s Codes of Welfare, and being New Zealand’s OIE National Focal Point for Animal Welfare.


Dr Philip JUDGE: Specialist in Veterinary Emergency Medicine, Australia

Dr Philip Judge is a veterinarian who is one of Australia’s leading is not just at the frontline of animal medicine, but at the emergency end of it where crucial timely decisions are critical to the well-being of the animal and owner alike. The veterinary profession promotes itself as societies “animal health and welfare specialists”. They are expected to be the animals champion, and the animal related expert who provides up-to-date advice that impact the well-being, safety, and life of animals. Philip is in a unique position to advise how the critical changes will recognise the experience of the animal


Philip Lymbery - CEO, Compassion in World Farming

A passionate animal campaigner, he is Chief Executive of leading animal welfare charity Compassion in World Farming. Philip is also author of best selling book 'Farmageddon' about the impact of factory farming. With his lobbyist activities, he has played a key role in banning at European level some of the most cruel industrial farming systems. Philip Lymbery, Chief Executive Officer of Compassion in World Farming, underlines the biggest paradox of the food system


Dr Lila MILLER: Veterinarian, Vice-President American Society for Protection of Animals (ASPCA), USA

Dr. Lila Miller is a veterinarian who is recognised across the USA and internationally for her work. Her career has included being the Director of the ASPCA's Brooklyn Clinic, Vice President of ASPA specialist programs, and insights working on the National Board of Medical Examiners and the National Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, as a member of the executive committee of the American Association of Veterinary State Boards, and on the New York State Board of Veterinary Medicine. She is the recipient of numerous awards including, for example, the Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award from the American Animal Hospital Association, the AVMA Animal Welfare Award, and the prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine who have distinguished themselves in service to the profession and their community. She continues to lecturing, writing, and developing programs that shape the standards which affect the future of people, professionals, and animals across the USA.


Dr Ian A. ROBERTSON: Barrister and Animal Law specialist, Guardianz, New Zealand

Ian is an internationally recognised legal specialist on the subject of animal welfare and the law. Ian originally trained as a veterinarian. After 15 years working as a front-line clinical veterinarian and running his own veterinary hospitals, he added a law degree with the specific intention of specialising in the area of animal law. After working for almost a decade as a former prosecutor and Statewide Specialist on animal welfare compliance and enforcement (New Zealand, Australia) Ian established Guardianz Lawyers and Consultants specialising in the area of animal law and related subject areas of biosecurity and food safety. He is a specialist advisor to organisations and corporates on matters involving animals and the law, continues to lecturer this specialty subject to law and veterinary undergraduates, and is the author of the book “Animals, welfare and the law”.