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...Start ...Main practice areas ...Animal law
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Lawyers Hannover
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Georgstr. 48
30159 Hannover

Tel +49.511/357356-0
Fax +49.511/357356-29


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Animal Law (especially Equine Rights and Welfare)

General Animal Law:

Animal Law can be really differently classified and regards the following legal aspects:

  • Liability of animal´s keepers;
  • Hazard prevention;
  • Animal protection law;
  • Rent and neighbour law;
  • Third party liability;
  • Working animals;
  • Animal owners law;
  • Animal purchase:
    • Deficiency;
    • Warranty;
    • Purchase contract.
  • Veterinarians law:
    • Rights/obligations;
    • Invoice;
    • Professional malpractice;
    • Veterinarian rights
  • Law regarding animals rights:

Liability of animal keepers

It is really common for an animal to cause damages to property and to injure people. Dog bites and riding accidents are just two examples of a variety of accidents with which an animal can suddenly be confronted. Such events may be associated with serious financial consequences for the holder of the animal. Anyone who keeps animals must also be liable for the damage caused by them. The relevant statutory provisions described in Section 833 of the German Civil Code (BGB), explicitly regulate animal ownership.

Strict Liability in the field of Animal law

In German Law, all animal holders should know about the so-called „strict or absolute liability“.  This means that the animal owner liability for damages shall be independent of whether or not he shall culpably have provoked the damage caused by his animal. In principle, he is liable for all damage caused by his animal and which is attributable to a typical animal hazard. “Typical animal hazards” are understood as behaviours of the animal that are inherent to a particular species: for instance, biting belongs to dogs and kicking to horses.

From a legal point of view, an exception to the responsibility of the owner is made only if the animal causing the damage is a so-called “livestock” / “working animal”. An animal is then considered a livestock when it is used for professional purposes, for gainful employment, and/or for the maintenances of the animal owner. This can be a cow for a farmer, or service dogs for blinds and the police. If damage is caused by a livestock animal it is initially also assumed that the animal holder caused damage and is liable for it.  In contrast to the owner of a pet (a so-called luxury animal in Germany), however, he can free himself from his liability by proving that he has taken the care necessary in the handling of his animal and he is not responsible for its attitude.

As a result, livestock liability insurance tailored to their needs is recommended for each livestock holder. This is particularly important for those who hold larger animals such as horses, dogs or bovine animals. On the other hand, damages caused by small pets such as cats, birds or rabbits are usually covered by the private liability insurance. The corresponding insurance policy should, however, be checked for safety by a lawyer.


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© German lawyer Michael Horak 2002-2018

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