David Walbank KC Writes on Anthropomorphism in Court and the Limits of the Criminal Law

May 26, 2023

In his most recent fortnightly ‘Crime Brief’ column for New Law Journal, David Walbank KC examined a case which reaffirmed the limits of the courts’ willingness to over-extend the protections of the English criminal law to the animal kingdom.

In R v Kish (Stephen) [2023] 1 Cr App R (S) 23, the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) considered the wording of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which (alongside a number of other perfectly standard restrictions relating to internet usage, the wiping of software, file-sharing programmes and the storing of digital images) also contained a number of prohibitions which on their face were aimed at protecting animals from any future offending by the defendant.

In handing down the judgment of the court, Farbey J was at pains to emphasise that the court understood the great distress that any sexual contact by a human with an animal will necessarily cause to the owner of that animal. However, the plain meaning of the statutory wording within the Sentencing Act 2020 was that the purpose of a SHBO is to protect members of the public from sexual harm and the only prohibitions that can be included within such an order are those necessary for that purpose. It would strain the language of the statute beyond the parliamentary intention if animals were treated as being amongst the potential beneficiaries of such orders. For the full article, see [CRIME BRIEF R v Kish]

David Walbank KC specialises in the trial of white-collar crime. He is also the creator of www.crimecast.law on which he presents regular video reviews of recent cases.