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Legal Minds

6 October 2014 / by / in

Human? rights.

Tommy is 26 years old, he spends a solitary life watching cartoons. The Sunday Times reports that this week the US Supreme Court will determine a case asking that he be released from captivity to enable him to share the company of others. The case is based on human rights law and it will be argued that Tommy should be released from his incarceration. The unusual factor is that Tommy is a chimpanzee.

If the case succeeds it will establish how far animals have ‘human rights’.In English law an animal such as Tommy, would be regarded like a cat or a dog as a chattel and issues such as his ownership would be determined according to property rights and the law of contract. Cruelty and other animal abuse is policed (some say too vigorously) by bodies like the RSPCA, but we are a long way from affording them human rights.


John Bechelet

John specialises in commercial and civil fraud litigation. Admitted as a solicitor in 1983, John worked in private practice and in-house for a leading life assurance company before establishing Bivonas with Antony Brown in 1997. John has extensive experience in a wide range of courts and tribunals including the UK Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Divisional Court. He has been involved in a number of important reported cases.