Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2020

From WikiAnimal

The Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom introduced to strengthen animal welfare laws. The legislation was passed into law and came into effect on June 29th, 2021. The act recognises animal sentience in law for the first time.

Following a number of serious animal welfare prosecutions, the United Kingdom Government announced in September 2017, that it intended to increase the maximum sentence to five years. It published draft Animal Welfare (Sentencing and Recognition of Sentience) Bill in December 2017 for consultation.[1]

The draft Bill proposed two key legislative changes. Firstly, it explicitly recognised animals as sentient beings which was previously included in Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty. Secondly the Bill would have increased the maximum custodial sentence for animal cruelty offences from 6 months to 5 years.[1]

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill 2017-19 was made public on 26 June 2019 and underwent a Second Reading in the Commons on 9 July 2019. The primary goal of the Bill was to increase the maximum penalty for the most serious animal cruelty offences in England and Wales, as defined under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, from six months to five years. On 23 July 2019, the Bill advanced to the Committee Stage, where it was passed unamended. The next step was the Report Stage in the Commons, initially scheduled for 4 September 2019. However, the Report Stage was ultimately cancelled, and the Bill fell at the end of the 2017-2019 parliamentary session.[1]

The main purpose of the Act was the creation of a new Animal Sentience Committee. [2]

The Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Act 2020 increases the maximum sentence for animal cruelty offences from six months to five years. This is a substantial increase that puts animal cruelty on par with other serious criminal offences. Previously, offenders who were found guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to an animal could only be sentenced to a maximum of six months in prison. Now, under the new legislation, offenders can receive up to five years in prison, an unlimited fine, or both.[1]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 BRIEFING PAPER Number 8612, 10 March 2021
  2. Some Thoughts on the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Act 2022 The United Kingdom Constitutional Law Association Archived May 6 2023