Until recently, the possibilities for animal protection groups to use the German legal system to help animals were very limited. However, in several federal states animal protection groups have now finally been given the right to sue under certain circumstances. Although the cases can only be won at the federal state level, the court rulings can have an effect on Germany as a whole because federal sub-laws may need to be adapted accordingly.
While we will only be able to file lawsuits in Berlin, where animal agriculture only plays a minor role, we can work with other organizations which are in a position to sue in 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 of a particular species. This means that we are focusing less on stopping the construction of factory farms (which is a goal some other organizations pursue) and more on enabling lawsuits that help us influence the wording of animal welfare law and its sub-laws.
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, 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 a purpose and would have to be abolished completely, even 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 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.
We are supporting a constitutional appeal against a court ruling that deemed all practices in factory farming legal. The court’s reasoning for its (outrageous) ruling was that since the public and politicians know about the anguish animals have to endure in factory farms and yet these practices appear to be widely accepted, they can be considered to be legal. In our legal and non-legal opinion, this ruling is not comprehensible and we assume that the court ruling of the first instance had not been properly checked at the following instance. We are confident that the constitutional court of Baden-Württemberg will not uphold the original court ruling.
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 (not acting in his board member role) was the main lawyer behind this historic ruling.
Successful lawsuit against 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 are usually legal
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 preventing practices that are in violation of the German animal welfare law and/or its sub-laws. This case was won in all three instances.