Animal Law principally concerns:
- the failure of Australian law to properly protect the welfare of animals, numbering some half a billion animals annually, including the legal conception of animals as property;
- the challenges confronting the enforcement of such laws, including by way of prosecution and private challenges utilising civil remedies such as interlocutory injunctions;
- the rights of advocates (including by way of secondary boycotts) and protestors, and possible legal impediments to the public dissemination of the animal welfare message (such as enunciated by the High Court in the Levy ‘free speech’ case);
- the manner in which strategic litigation may be creatively used to improve animal welfare outcomes in reliance on laws other than animal protection statutes (with their low welfare thresholds for most animals); and
- the case for law reform, including the manner in which the Commonwealth may assume principal responsibility for animal welfare.
One of the objects of the Panel is to encourage the adoption of Animal Law as part of the syllabus for law schools in Australia. Panel Chair, Graeme McEwen, is inaugural lecturer (Part-time) in Animal Law as a third year elective at Melbourne University law school.
Other guest lecturers have included Professor Peter Singer and Justice Finkelstein of the Federal Court of Australia.
Animal Law is taught at more than 12 universities in Australia and New Zealand and over 100 universities worldwide, including universities such as Harvard, Duke, UCLA and Michigan State University.