Until recently, the possibilities for animal protection groups to use the legal system to help animals were very limited. This has now changed in several federal states where animal protection groups were given the right to sue in certain cases. Although cases can only be won at the federal state level, the court rulings can affect Germany as a whole because these rulings can mean that federal sub laws have to be changed.
While the ASF will not be granted the right to sue in the foreseeable future (foundations have always been exempt from this right and neither Berlin nor Bavaria – being the only states where the ASF could apply – have exercised their right to sue), we can work with other organizations which are in a position to sue. 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.
Since 2017, we have been focusing above all on lawsuits that could potentially impact all farmed animals of a particular species. This means that our focus is less on stopping the construction of farm buildings, and more on enabling lawsuits that help us to influence the formulation of animal law. We also want to ensure that regulations concerning animal agriculture are extended and improved.
Lawsuit concerning farrowing crates
We have filed 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, it is simply about ensuring that the 1.9 million female pigs in Germany have the space to lie down easily with outstretched limbs, this step would in practice mean that farrowing crates would serve no further purpose and would have to be abolished completely, the more so 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, which we consider contrary to animal welfare laws, on turkey fattening farms. This could benefit around 35 million turkeys every year. The association Menschen für Tierrechte Baden-Württemberg is the plaintiff in this case, and we are financing the lawsuit in full.
Successful lawsuit against the mega pig fattening facility
The lawsuit, supported financially by us and filed in 2016, against the approval of a mega pig fattening facility containing 37,000 feeding places in Hassleben (Brandenburg) was successful. The administrative court of Potsdam ruled that the approval was unlawful. The lawsuit had a suspensory effect, meaning that, despite the approval, the facility was not permitted to enter service. In addition to the fact that these feeding places will remain empty, this ruling is the vindication of an ideal and has a motivational effect: Over 14 years of ongoing resistance, the facility in Hassleben became a symbol of the fight against factory farming and of the failure of politicians and authorities to the detriment of animals. As at mid 2018, negotiations regarding possible appeal proceedings are ongoing. It is therefore unclear as to whether another one or two further legal proceedings will have to be won.