Environmental and Animal Rights Disputes in Courts: Standing before the Law in the Capacity of a “Person”

*Please head to our Articles & Discussion column for a contribution by Mr. Harsh Vardhan Bhati on RIGHTS OF NATURE : THE ASCENT FROM LEGAL OBJECT TO LEGAL PERSON

1.) Creating Legal Rights for Rivers: Lessons from Australia, New Zealand, and India

By Erin L. O’Donnell and Julia Talbot-Jones [Ecology and Society 23(1):7]

As new sets of environmental issues have started to surface each day, they are increasingly becoming more and more complex. In such times, people are being confronted with unprecedented challenges while attempting to find some recourse. These complexities have now called for innovative approaches, out of which one of the most recent development is the use of legal personality to protect the water systems in law by granting them legal rights. This approach has been used in Australia, New Zealand, and India. This article aims to critically analyse this approach with specific emphasis on examples from these three countries.

Link: https://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol23/iss1/art7/

2.) The Case for Legal Personhood for Nonhuman Animals and the Elimination of their Status as Property in Canada

By Courtney Holdron [University of Toronto, TSpace, Master’s Thesis, 2013]

The current legal system in Canada has found to put the interests of humans on a higher pedestal than those of non-human animals. This results in little to no legal recognition and being subjected as mere property. The author believes that this sort of interrelationship between the human and non-human animals is in direct contradiction to the recent developments in the country pertaining to science, ethics, laws and policies, which support the argument that these non-human animals have a right to have their interests protected. This article proposes that hence, the legal relationship between the two needs serious reconsideration and needs to be redefined by eliminating the status of non-human animals as property and should be granted the status of legal persons.

Link: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/42864

3.) The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law: Effective Judicial Intervention

By Joseph L. Sax [68 MICH. L. REV. 471 (1970)]

The public concern about the environment has started to find its way inside courtrooms. Citizens have begun to take the onus of protecting the environment and are no longer willing to rely on the administrations to take action in order to protect public interests. In pursuit of this, one of the most recent developments has been the demand of judicial recognition of their rights by such citizens and suing the government agencies that lack in protecting the larger public interest. There have been many inconsistencies in legislative and administrative actions which has resulted in the adoption of some broad approaches in front of the courts. This article mainly analyses different criteria that any satisfactory approach should meet in order to develop comprehensive legal approach to resource management problems.

Link: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol68/iss3/3

4.) Should Trees have Standing? – Toward Legal Rights for Natural Objects

By Christopher D. Stone [Southern California Law Review 45:1972:450-501]

In this article, the author traces the journey of a man’s moral development as he continues to extend the objects of his “social instincts and sympathies”. Through history, it has been noted that each extension of rights has witnessed opposition in the earlier stages. The author argues that we are inclined to suppose the rightlessness of rightless “things” to be a decree of Nature, not a legal convention acting in support of some status quo. In this article he analyses two sides of attributing rights – the legal-operational aspects and the socio-psychic aspects.

Link: https://iseethics.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/stone-christopher-d-should-trees-have-standing.pdf

5.) Sacrificing the Sacrifice of Animals: Legal Personhood for Animals, The Status of Animals as Property, and the Presumed Primacy of Humans

By Taimie L. Bryant [39 Rutgers Law Journal 247 (2007)]

In this article the authors presents to different definitions of legal personhood. She uses Jacques Derrida’s suggestion that humans should maintain their hegemony and separation from animals by failing to include animals in the biblical prohibition “thou shall not kill”. Lastly, she concludes that a direct legal standing for animals is not necessary in order to secure a substantive change in law.

Link: https://www.animallaw.info/article/sacrificing-sacrifice-animals-legal-personhood-animals-status-animals-property-and-presumed

6.) Reflections on Animals, Property, and the Law and Rain Without Thunder

By Gary L. Francione [70 Law & Contemporary Problems 9 (2007)]

Animal interests have almost always been regarded at a lower pedestal than human interests, even when the human interest at stake is relatively trivial and the animal interest at stake is significant. The result of any supposed balancing of human and non-human interests required by animal-welfare laws is predetermined from the outset by the property status of the non-human as a “food animal,” “experimental animal,” “game animal,” etc.

Link: https://scholarship.law.duke.edu/lcp/vol70/iss1/2/