Animal Welfare Act 2006 Explanatory Notes

Prosecutions

Section 30: Power of local authority to prosecute offences

132.The right to launch private prosecutions derives from the common law. This Act does not limit that right in respect of offences committed under this Act. In addition, local authorities are given a power to prosecute offences under the Act.

Section 31: Time limits for prosecutions

133.Under the existing law, which requires that a prosecution be commenced within 6 months of the date of the offence being committed, it has sometimes proved difficult to prosecute for cruelty to animals when evidence of the offence has not been discovered until some considerable time after the offence was committed. For example, if a recording of an animal fight was discovered and the enforcer wished to bring a prosecution under section 8(1).

134.Subsection (1) authorises prosecutions to be commenced within three years of the date the offence was allegedly committed, in the rare circumstance where evidence of the alleged offence has not come to light within the usual six month time limit, provided the proceedings are brought within six months of the date when sufficient evidence to mount a prosecution comes to the prosecutor’s knowledge.

135.Subsection (2) provides that if a prosecutor certifies the date on which he learnt of the relevant evidence, that date shall be the starting point for calculating the period within which proceedings must be commenced.

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