Search Legislation

Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2016

Section 48: Penalties for animal welfare offences

This Section amends the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (the 2011 Act) to, increase the maximum penalties in respect of animal welfare offences for all indictable offences and certain summary offences; amend the mode of trial for three offences from summary only to hybrid; and, extend the availability of a range of post-conviction court orders.

Subsections (1) and (3) amend the mode of trial for the following offences in the 2011 Act from summary only to hybrid, which will allow cases involving these offences to be tried either summarily or on indictment: -

  • Possessing, supplying, publishing images of an animal fight (section 8(3));

  • Breach of a Disqualification Order (section 33(9)); and

  • Selling or parting with an animal pending the outcome of an appeal against a relevant Court Order (section 40(7)).

Subsections (2) to (4) increase the maximum sentence for cases heard on indictment from two years to five years, and for summary cases involving unnecessary suffering (section 4) and causing, attending, or other involvement in, an animal fight (sections 8(1) and 8(2)), the maximum sentence increases from six months to twelve months and the maximum fine from £5,000 to £20,000.

Subsections (5) and (6) extend the range of court orders available under sections 32(1), 33(10), 36(1), 36(6), 37(1) and 38(1) of the 2011 Act to apply to cases involving the offence of possession / supply of images of an animal fight (section 8(3)).

Subsection (7) amends Article 29(1) of the Magistrates’ Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1981 to add the offences of unnecessary suffering (section 4) and causing, attending, or other involvement in, an animal fight (sections 8(1) and 8(2)) to the list of offences for which a defendant cannot elect for a trial by jury.

Back to top


Print Options


Explanatory Notes

Text created by the Northern Ireland Assembly department responsible for the subject matter of the Act to explain what the Act sets out to achieve and to make the Act accessible to readers who are not legally qualified. Explanatory Notes accompany all Acts of the Northern Ireland Assembly.


More Resources

Access essential accompanying documents and information for this legislation item from this tab. Dependent on the legislation item being viewed this may include:

  • the original print PDF of the as enacted version that was used for the print copy
  • lists of changes made by and/or affecting this legislation item
  • confers power and blanket amendment details
  • all formats of all associated documents
  • correction slips
  • links to related legislation and further information resources