In the German State North Rhine Westphalia (NRW), a class action has been introduced since 2013 for animal welfare organisations. A hunting association asked the Ministry of environment to be registered as Animal Welfare Organisation to get the privilege of using the class action in this state. The Ministry did not accept this request and the hunting organization has filed a complained against the Ministry, and there was and administration court case.
The judge of the administration court in Gelsenkirchen rejected the request of the hunting organization to be registered as an Animal Welfare Organisation. In consequence they have no legal base for using the tool of class action for animal welfare, as this is possible for seven registered AWOs in North Rhine Westphalia.
Comment by Dr Marlene Wartenberg, FOUR PAWS consultant:
The class action is logic legal political consequence of the federal state goal Animal Welfare, based in Art. 20a of the German constitution since 2002. The class action Animal Welfare has been established in the meantime in seven of 16 states of Germany (Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, North Rhine Westphalia, Reinland Pfalz, Saarland, Schleswig Holstein). Six of these states have a red or red and green government, one, Saarland, has a right-left coalition.
In the court case mentioned above we see that also this tool clearly established for the balance and in the interest for the sake of the animals and granting a proper enforcement of the respective AW legislation, by correcting wrong administration decisions against the animals or stating that the decision of an administration is wrong, should be misused here by hunters, but the judgement was very clear.
North Rhine Westphalia has a state government composed by Socialists and Greens. The minister for climate, environment, agriculture, nature conservation and consumer protection is lead by a Green state minister.
The class action of North Rhine Westphalia was established in 2013 and has the broadest scope for AWOs activities and contributions, they have also participation rights e.g. to be heard already during a legislation procedure. NRW is also the state with most registered AWOs: seven. In the other states there are only one or up to three registered, in some states there are common offices of AWOs. There is also a certain diversity of empowerment, however all of them enable the AWOs to do a so called positive or negative declaratory action, and five have also a more far reaching right for rescission (or called action to rescind).