Penalties should be set by the Competent Authority according to a fine banding system which would be preferable to actually stating any specific amount in any currency in the subject Act itself. The actual currency levels for each banding shall then be stipulated in regulations or published in the Official Gazette (calculated by taking into account the severity of the infringement, and average income and general living standards of each individual country). Then these can be reviewed on a regular basis, and easily amended when required, according to inflation rates.
By way of example, the list of fine levels for each banding could be established as follows:
Level 1 offence – minor infringements – penalties set at a minimum of Euro 50 up to Euro 1,000;
Level 2 offence – serious infringements – penalties set at a minimum of Euro 300 up to Euro 15,000, and for corporate bodies up to Euro 50,000;
Level 3 offence – aggravated infringements as well as repeated offences – penalties set at a minimum of Euro 3,000 up to Euro 30,000, and for corporate bodies up to Euro 250,000; and
Level 4 offence – for criminal offences imprisonment of up to 5 years and a fine of minimum Euro 5,000 up to Euro 250,000, and for corporate bodies up to Euro 500,000.
Please note that these amounts are only a guide, and appropriate levels would need to be determined for each country. Also, please note that this currency guidance has been determined at the date of publication of this Model Animal Welfare Act and may become outdated over time (the very reason we promote a banding system). In no case should lower penalties be established than those existing for any law that the Act supersedes. Thus any country using this Act as a basis for a new Animal Welfare Act is advised to read each section carefully, and to compare with any existing provisions to ensure that this is providing an enhancement and improvement to the exiting level of protection and deterrent.
In some countries, fines are related not only to the seriousness of the offence, but also to the economic situation of the offender. This can be a just system, if well applied – in particular to ensure that fines are established at meaningful levels for more affluent individuals. The same rationale is applied to the provision of higher maximum fine levels for corporate bodies.
Fines for animal mistreatment have to be substantial enough to function not only as adequate punishment, but also as a suitable and effective deterrent.
However, deterrence and punishment – as well as education and further training – should always go hand in hand: And the hope is that these will eventually achieve a shift in human attitudes and behaviour.
This is an important provision – for both its deterrent value and its role in preventing further animal welfare problems.
The list of further aspects is not comprehensive, but should highlight a few points worthy of further consideration.
The financial implications to be addressed would also depend very much on the individual country and the scale of expenditure. For instance, as regards creating or updating an existing or new administrative apparatus to combine and supervise all animal welfare related activities.
Some auxiliary costs could be compensated by charging fees for certain administrative measures, i.e. for authorisations, licenses, permits, supervision, control as well as specific services under the subject Act and subordinate regulations stipulated under the Act according to Section 34 (2).