Your selected location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. HHG Articles
  4. /
  5. Litigation
  6. /
  7. Who’s on first? | Persons in charge and persons responsible in the sheep and cattle livestock industry
12 Jul 2021

HHG Legal Group has extensive experience in providing farmers with practical legal solutions for their business, family, and future. An important consideration for people in the livestock industry, in particular, is who is in charge of an animal, and who is responsible for that animal?

Bogdan Soactar and Jordan Schweitzer, provide an insight into Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) and Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards, and Deports) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations 2020 and where they might be applicable.

Responsible in the Sheep and Cattle Livestock Industry

In the livestock industry, the question of who is in charge of an animal, and who is responsible for that animal, are two different questions with the same answer – most likely you.

Taking a step back, whether or not you are a person in charge of a person responsible depends on whether the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) or one of its subsidiary Regulations is applicable to the situation. If there has been a contravention of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) (such as an act of cruelty), then the question is “who is in charge of an animal?” On the other hand, if a person fails to handle a livestock animal in accordance with the Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards, and Deports) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations 2020 then the question changes to “who is the person responsible for the animal?”

On its face, the distinction between a person in charge and a person responsible may seem esoteric as they appear to refer to the same person. But this is not the case.

Under the Animal Welfare Act, a person in charge of an animal can be any of the following persons:

  • the owner of the animal;
  • the person who has actual physical custody or control of the animal;
  • the employer of a person who has actual physical custody or control of the animal; or
  • the owner or occupier of the place where an animal is located, such as the owner of a sale yard or farm.

On the other hand, under the above Cattle and Sheep Regulations, a person responsible for an animal can include all of the above persons in charge, in addition to the following which applies in specific circumstances:

  • the person handling the animal;
  • a person involved in buying or selling of the animal;
  • a consignor (the seller through an agent) of the animal (in certain circumstances specified in the Regulation);
  • the driver of a vehicle transporting the animal, or their employer;
  • the operator of a sale yard, depot, or other holding facilities (or their employees) where the animal is kept; or
  • the person who receives the animal after transportation, or their employer.

Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) s 5(1) definition of “person in charge”.

Animal Welfare (Transport, Saleyards, and Deports) (Cattle and Sheep) Regulations 2020 (WA) reg 6.

While the persons responsible under the Cattle and Sheep Regulations are more expansive, they are limited only to circumstances involving cattle and sheep.

Importantly, although both the Act and Regulation identify multiple persons as being in charge of, or responsible for, livestock animals, neither specifies which person is more responsible or more in charge, than another person. The effect of this is, even if you are not the person who is in breach of the Act or Regulation if you are one of the persons responsible for, or in charge of, an animal then you can be liable for that breach and face penalties.

As Abbott and Costello once philosophised “who’s on first?”, WA farmers need to ask, “who’s in charge?” and “who is responsible?” – because it’s probably you.

Our team is highly skilled and experienced in providing holistic legal solutions for the Agribusiness sectorContact us today if you need advice or representation in this area. 

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"


My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"


"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."


"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"


"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."


"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."


"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."


"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."


"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."


"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."


"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve and Jane

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."


"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."


"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"


"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."


"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."


"Good service you can count on."


"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."


"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."


"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."


Select your location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.