Other relevant legislation

A number of other Acts of Parliament set out controls to protect animal welfare. In some circumstances, conduct which would otherwise constitute an offence of cruelty under these pieces of legislation is not illegal if it is carried out lawfully under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986. However, protection for those engaged in scientific procedures ceases to apply where the treatment of an animal amounts to an act of cruelty and is not authorised by the terms of an Establishment, Project and Personal Licence.

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Various veterinary, agricultural or husbandry practices are not regulated under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986, but are controlled by other legislation. Licensees should be aware that, although their Personal Licence may authorise them to perform various techniques for scientific procedures under the control of a Project Licence, they are not permitted to perform the same techniques for veterinary or husbandry purposes. For example, a personal licensee may have the authority to blood sample an animal for research purposes, but not to sample blood from an animal for husbandry or health screening purposes.

Some types of research, for example, that involving work with wild animals, may need to comply both with the requirements of A(SP)A, and other relevant legislation (e.g. the Wildlife and Countryside Act).

Other legislation that you should be aware of includes:

The Veterinary Surgeons Act (1966)

This prohibits the carrying out of acts of veterinary surgery by unqualified persons, except by the owner, a member of the owner’s family or an employee of one of these for the administration of first aid. It excludes certain routine husbandry procedures. As with the Animal Welfare Act 2006, provisions of the Veterinary Surgeons Act are set aside where the procedures concerned are carried out under the authority of the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

The Medicines Act (1968), Veterinary Medicine Regulations, (2013), Misuse of Drugs Regulations (2001)

A range of different legal controls apply to the acquisition and supply of prescription only medicines (POMs) to animals. In most circumstances, the use of POMs in laboratory animals should be under the control of the Named Veterinary Surgeon or their deputy. The legislation is regularly revised, and at the time of writing, acquisition and use of POMs as a necessary part of a research protocol under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act does not require veterinary control. However, most suppliers of these substances require a veterinary surgeon to authorise their supply. Irrespective of whether or not the use of POMs is under veterinary control, the acquisition, use and disposal of these needs to be recorded. If the substance is a controlled drug (under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations), then additional stringent controls are required. All of these controls apply irrespective of whether the substances are being administered to animals undergoing procedures authorised under A(SP)A. If in any doubt, discuss this with your Named Veterinary Surgeon, who will be able to advise on local arrangements that are in place to assist with compliance.

Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provision) Act, 1968

This makes it an offence to cause unnecessary pain or distress to any livestock, for which the person is responsible and are held on agricultural land, or to knowingly permit this. The Minister of Agriculture may make additional regulations concerning the welfare of livestock, including provisions with respect to accommodation, diet and physical mutilation. Any action lawfully carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act, 1986 does not constitute an offence under this legislation.

Animal Welfare Act 2006

This Act brought together and modernised a range of welfare legislation relating to farmed and non-farmed animals. The main aim of the Act is to reduce animal suffering by enabling preventative action to be taken before suffering occurs. The Act does not apply to procedures lawfully carried out under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act.

Transport of animals

The movement of animals may be governed by one or more of the following:-

Additionally if wild animals are to be transported sections of the following may apply:-

The regulations have regard for the requirements of the different types of animals, duration of journeys, environmental requirements, provisions of food and water, and suitability of animal containers. Forms for the importation of animals can be obtained from DEFRA .

Other sources of information


The primary source for extensive, up-do-date and balanced information on the use of animals in research is provided by the UK National Centre for the 3Rs .

The NC3Rs is the UK’s national organisation which leads the discovery and application of new technologies and approaches to replace, reduce and refine the use of animals for scientific purposes (the 3Rs)

In addition to working with scientists and organisations within the life sciences nationally and internationally, NC3Rs also funds 3Rs research, training and career development. The Centre also support open innovation and commercialisation of 3Rs technologies and stimulates changes in policy, regulations and practice relating to the use of animals.

A particularly significant resource for all those using animals in research was launched in 2015 – the Experimental Design Assistant which aims to support research workers in planning animal experiments to ensure a robust study design and reliable and reproducible findings.

Updated on 12th May 2020

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