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Using The Law

Using The Law

Why The Law Matters

The BUAV has always used the law as a central part of its campaigning against animal experiments. Ethical and scientific arguments may lie at the heart of the debate but ultimately, animal experiments are sanctioned by legislation.

Only through changing legislation will the deliberate infliction of suffering on animals in the name of science be ended.

All too often, in an attempt to sway public opinion, governments and researchers hide behind fine-sounding words and their own secrecy to claim that the law gives meaningful protection to lab animals. The BUAV’s experience, borne out of undercover investigations and other evidence, is that the reality is very different.

How The BUAV Uses The Law

Sometimes we will take legal cases against the Government, but our legal strategy is much broader than this. Here are some examples of the way the BUAV uses the law:


We have won cases taken to the Information Commissioner. We also won a key case before the Information Tribunal, but unfortunately the ruling has since been overturned in the courts. The Court of Appeal said that it is simply up to animal researchers to decide what information they give to the Home Office can be made public (even to Parliament) – driving a coach and horses through public accountability. We are seeking to take this case to the House of Lords.

However, very unusually, the High Court judge made strong comments that in his opinion only confidential information should, as a matter of policy, be kept secret (as the BUAV has always argued). This will make it harder for the Home Office to keep the secrecy line indefinitely, emphasising the benefits of using the law to influence political debate.


The legal aspects of the impending revision of the EU directive dealing with lab animals (Directive 86/609) are going to be key, and this is something we have been involved with for several years already.

Formal complaints to the European Commission about the way a member state applies the directive can bring real benefits – an example is our complaint a few years ago about the unlawful use in Belgium of stray cats and dogs.