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The High Court has given judgment in a case concerning the regulatory regime applying to Halal slaughter, and in particular the use of mechanical restrainers to restrain non-stunned sheep prior to slaughter under that regime.

The Claimant, an association of meat suppliers, challenged the government's policy, set out in subordinate legislation, of requiring the slaughterman to be ready to carry out the killing "immediately" after the animal is placed in mechanical restraint. The Claimant argued that this was contrary to the welfare of sheep as a flock species, because its effect was to preclude the use of long restrainers, containing a line of sheep restrained together before slaughter. 

The Court rejected the application for judicial review, holding that Defra had been entitled to consider that an immediacy requirement was appropriate in order to minimise the duration of restraint, itself a cause of distress to animals. Defra's rule was lawful on a correct interpretation of the relevant EU Regulations. 

The Court also considered the issue of delay. It agreed with the Defendant that whilst the form of the challenge was to secondary legislation, the substance of the challenge was actually to the policy, and grounds had first arisen when that policy had originally been decided and formally pronounced, not when the legislation came into force. 

The full judgment is available here

David Pievsky acted for Defra.

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