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High Court grants permission for animal testing Judicial Review against Home Office

Cruelty Free International

2 min read Partner content

It can be revealed today that the High Court has granted permission to leading animal protection organization, Cruelty Free International, to apply for a judicial review against the Home Office relating to animal testing

In 1998, the UK was the first country to establish a ban on animal testing for cosmetics and their ingredients. It did so by way of a policy ban, implemented in practice by not issuing Home Office project licences for such work under the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 (known as ASPA).

Following the UK leaving the EU, the Home Office confirmed in a letter to Cruelty Free International in 2021 that it now again allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK. Tests are required even where chemicals are used exclusively as cosmetics ingredients, effectively overturning the cosmetics testing ban.

Permission to apply for Judicial Review has been granted by the High Court on two grounds.

Firstly, whether the change to the Government’s over two decades old policy should be allowed, with clarification of the scope of any ban.

Secondly, ASPA requires assessment of whether the harm that would be caused to protected animals in terms of suffering, pain and distress is justified by the expected outcome, taking into account ethical considerations and the expected benefit to human beings, animals or the environment. The Government’s position has been that the suffering involved in safety testing on animals cannot be justified, and therefore the development calls into question whether the harm:benefit test is being applied correctly.

The successful application for Judicial Review follows the news that more than 80 companies - including Unilever, Avon, Boots, Waitrose and the Co-op – joined Cruelty Free International in writing to the Home Office voicing concerns that ingredients in beauty products would have to be tested on animals in the UK.

Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs at Cruelty Free International, Kerry Postlewhite said: “This Judicial Review is vital to establish whether there is a ban on cosmetics testing on animals in the UK. The Home Office admitted in its letter of August 2021 to us that it now allows most if not all animal testing for cosmetic ingredients – including those used solely in cosmetics.

“The Government seems to be telling the public one thing – that cosmetics animal testing is banned in the UK - and doing something entirely different in practice. We know from poll after poll, that the British people are firmly opposed to animals suffering for beauty. A poll carried out by YouGov last autumn revealed that 85% find it unacceptable to test cosmetics ingredients on animals.”