Ethical issues and the law

Scientific Procedures Act 1986 as Amended 2012

Similar to original act: researchers prosecuted if cause harm to animals or perform non-permitted procedure on an animal without a licence. Licence is issued by the Home Secretary. The research assessed by the Home Office. Regularly inspected by Home Office inspectors.  Allows researchers to do research on animals without being prosecuted. Strictest system in the world. 

It requires three types of licences for procedures involving all living vertebrates other than humans (and since 1993 also the octopus vulgaris, and since 2012, all cephalopods): Personal Licence Project Licence Establishment Licence. A cost benefit analysis must be undertaken. 

Defines protected Animal - All vertebrates excluding humans, and including the octopus (vulgaris) from half way through gestation and cephalopods. Age of animal - mammals – last 1/3 gestation - fish from free feeding stage/hatching (cephalopod). Living Animal - until circulation permanently stopped; brain destroyed 

AWERB – Animal Welfare and Ethical Review Body. Main functions: To review project licence applications, To ensure the best standards of care and accommodation as well as monitoring management systems, To carry out a retrospective review of all on-going projects promoting the uptake and development of the 3 R’s.

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Cruelty to Animals Act 1876

Cruelty to animals act 1876: 

  • Researchers would be prosecuted for cruelty unless their work was approved. In general animals has to be anaesthesised, they could only be used once and then terminated at the end. Research could only be done for the due instruction of the persons to save or prolong human life. 
  • Any person taking part in performing any experiment calculated to give pain, shall be guilty of an offence against this act, if it be the first instance, be liable to a penalty not exceeding fifty pounds, if it be the second or any subsequent offence, they will be liabe to a penalty not exceeding one hundred pounds or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding three months.  
  • This act was replaced by the Veterinary Sugeons Act 1966 
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Brambell Committee

The Brambell committee was set up by government to inquire into the Welfare of Animals kept under Intensive livestock. Initial five freedoms: 

  • Stand up 
  • Lie down 
  • Turn around 
  • Groom Themselves 
  • Stretch their limbs 

1993 Revision of the five freedoms: 

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger, malnutrition 
  • Freedom from discomfort 
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease 
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour 
  • Freedom from fear and distress 
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Ethical issues and the law

The three R's: Replace, Reduce, Refine 

Banner Committee 1996 FAWC adopted three guiding principles agreed by the Banner Committee:

1. Harms of a certain degree and kind ought under no circumstances to be inflicted upon an animal.

2. Any harm to an animal, even if not absolutely impermissible, nonetheless requires justification and must be outweighed by the good which is realistically sought in so treating it. 

3. Any harm which is justified by the second principle ought, however, to be minimized as far as is reasonably possible

Further legislation Animal Welfare Act 2006. Largely replaced Protection of Animals Act 1911. Introduced the new welfare offence: animal owners have a positive duty of care; and outlaws neglecting to provide for their animals' basic needs, such as access to adequate nutrition and veterinary care. Outlaws tail docking of dogs.

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