Animal Law Review

Author Details

David J. Wolfson is author of Beyond the Law: Agribusiness and the Systemic Abuse of Animals Raised for Food or Food Production.

First Page



In 1991, McDonald's sued two pro se defendants in England for defamation in relation to, among other things, allegations that McDonald's was culpably responsible for cruel common farming practices. The case took seven years and the appeals still continue, Though McDonald's spent over $16 million on legal representation and had significant legal advantages, it lost major portions of the case, including the issue of animal cruelty. Mr. Molfson discusses the background and holding of "MeLibel" in relation to cruel common farming practices, its unique legal context, and the impact of the holding on animal law in general and state anti-cruelty laws in the United States. In addition, he explores the contradiction that MeLibel exposes: the fact that a common farming practice can be found to be cruel in the view of a reasonable person while legal pursuant to an anti-cruelty statute.



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