Using Legal Leverage

Using legal leverage
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Until recently, the possibilities for animal protection groups to use the German legal system to help animals were very limited. However, some of the federal states introduced a law that gives recognized animal protection groups the right to sue on behalf of animals. Although the cases are dealt with in the respective federal state, the court cases may go through the various instances and even reach the highest federal court. As a result, the court rulings can have an effect on Germany as a whole. For example, federal sub-laws may need to be adapted accordingly or certain practices are declared illegal .

While we will only be able to file lawsuits in Berlin, where animal agriculture only plays a minor role, we can work toghether with other organizations which are in a position to sue in predominantly agricultural states. We are very well equipped to do so because one of the most distinguished experts on German animal welfare law, Hans-Georg Kluge, serves on our board and oversees the cases.

Since 2017, we have been focusing on lawsuits that could potentially impact all farmed animals. This means that we are focusing less on stopping the construction of factory farms (which is a goal other organizations pursue) and more on enabling lawsuits that help us influence the wording of animal welfare law and its sub-laws.

Current cases

Lawsuit concerning farrowing crates

Financially and with our expertise, we support a lawsuit which aims to stop the use of farrowing crates (crates that confine female pigs in a space no larger than their own bodies). Despite the fact that, from a legal perspective, the case is simply about ensuring that the 1.9 million female pigs in Germany have enough space to lie down with limbs stretched out, this step would mean in practice that farrowing crates would no longer serve their purpose and would have to be abolished completely, as conversion measures would be too costly. The plaintiff in this case is Animal Rights Watch (ARIWA). We and the Erna Graff Foundation for Animal Welfare are financing the lawsuit.

Turkey farming lawsuit

Another lawsuit aims to put a stop to the horrendous conditions on turkey farms, which we consider breaching the animal welfare law. This case could benefit around 35 million turkeys every year. The association Menschen für Tierrechte Baden-Württemberg is the plaintiff in this case, while we are fully financing the lawsuit.

Constitutional Appeal

We are supporting a constitutional appeal against a court ruling that disregarded the appellant’s consitutional rights while at the same time arguing that all current practices in factory farming are in accordance with the law . The court’s reasoning for its (outrageous) line of argument was that while the public and politicians know about the anguish animals have to endure in factory farms, these practices are widely accepted and thus to be considered legal.

In our legal and non-legal opinion, this ruling is beyond comprehension and we assume that the court ruling of the first instance had not been properly checked by the following instance. We are confident that the constitutional court of Baden-Württemberg will not uphold the original court ruling.

Completed Lawsuits

Killing male chicks is illegal

The German Federal Administrative Court ruled that chick culling violates the animal welfare law. Our board member Hans-Georg Kluge (in this particular case not acting in his role as board member) was the main lawyer behind this historic ruling.

Successful lawsuit against a mega pig factory farm

The lawsuit against the approval of a mega pig factory farm for 37,000 pigs in Hassleben (Brandenburg), supported by us financially, was successful. The administrative court of Potsdam ruled that the approval of the farm had been unlawful. The lawsuit had a suspensory effect, meaning that, despite the former approval, the facility was not put into use. This ruling makes us optimistic: Over the 14 years of ongoing resistance, the facility in Hassleben became a symbol of the fight against factory farming and the failures of politicians and authorities to the detriment of the animals.

Investigations considered legal in principle

Another court ruling won by our board member Hans-Georg Kluge is that filming in factory farms is legal when there is good reason to believe that the authorities are not stopping practices that are in violation of the German animal welfare law and/or its sub-laws. This case was won in all three instances.

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