Australia’s first animal law referral service, PALS, has received a further $15,000 grant from animal rights organisation Voiceless, which will allow it to continue operating for a further six months.
The pro bono referral service, which was established earlier this year by Marianne Maguire of the Redfern Legal Centre, has been operating to date under an initial six month $20,000 grant made by Voiceless in 2006. In September this year, Lawyers Weekly reported that unless it received more funding, the service would be wound up by November.
The continued operation of the service for a further six months has been made possible by way of a $15,000 ‘special legal award’ made by Voiceless, this being the first time Voiceless has made such an award outside of its annual Grants Award program.
PALS currently operates as a referral service, taking enquiries from potential clients and referring them to willing prop bono lawyers who will take on the work on a no-cost or low-cost basis. However with the new funding, Maguire hopes that the service can start take a more proactive role in promoting animal welfare using the legal system.
“We’re seeking strategic potential test cases with the view to representing animal rights organisations on consumer protection matters which relate to animal welfare,” she said.
She is also hoping to be able to secure more permanent funding for the service. “We’re going to be seeking an ongoing sponsor whether that be an in-house legal team or a law firm, or having the service absorbed into a public interest clearing house-type organisation. We want to give the service an ongoing life,” she said.