You are here:

Judicial Review of UK Animal Testing Laws ends

Published on


Join our Target Zero campaign to end animal experiments in the UK

The two-day hearing for our Judicial Review of the Home Office’s policy on animal testing concluded on Thursday.

We now await the ruling of The Honourable Mr Justice Linden, which may take several weeks.

The review challenged the Home Office’s decision to abandon the ban on testing cosmetics on animals, which has been in place since 1998.

In its August 2021 letter to us, the Home Office admitted that it now allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK. Tests are required even where chemicals are used exclusively as cosmetics ingredients.

The Judicial Review – which decides the lawfulness of a public body’s actions – was brought for two reasons. Firstly, to confirm that the decision to reverse the cosmetics policy ban is unlawful; and secondly to confirm, with safety testing more generally, that the Home Office must assess the usefulness of the product or ingredient, and ‘harm-benefit balance’, when deciding whether to grant a licence for animal tests.

The Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 requires this assessment, based on ethical considerations and the likely benefits to humans, animals or the environment. However, the Government now says that a licence for safety testing on animals must be granted for tests where another regulator says it is scientifically required, regardless of how useful the product is or how much suffering is involved.

The Home Office’s admission that it allows animal testing for cosmetics in the UK followed our letter, co-signed by more than 80 companies, including Unilever, The Body Shop, Avon, Boots, Waitrose and the Co-op, voicing concerns that ingredients in beauty products would have to be tested on animals in the UK.

Our CEO, Michelle Thew said: “The outcome of this Judicial Review is vital in our fight to reinstate the cosmetics testing ban. We would have expected the Home Office to carry out a consultation prior to the abandonment of the policy ban, or at the very least to inform the public of this decision – but they did neither. Instead, the Home Secretary has effectively been allowing regulators to make decisions on granting licences for animal testing – which blows a hole in the UK’s longstanding leadership in banning animal testing for cosmetics.

“These are not tests that cosmetics companies want or feel the need to do to ensure the safety of their products. We also know, from poll after poll, that the British people are firmly opposed to animals suffering for beauty. A poll carried out by YouGov in Autumn 2021 revealed that 85% of people in the UK find it unacceptable to test cosmetics ingredients on animals.”

Our Target Zero campaign calls for an ambitious government-led strategy to end experiments on animals with a government minister solely dedicated to leading the fast transition to animal-free science. Find out how you can be a Target Zero Hero to end animal experiments in the UK below.