Animal Aid

ILLEGAL DEALING - Inland Revenue crack-down

Posted 1 October 2002
A reptile

As part of our campaign against the reptile trade, Animal Aid have asked Inland Revenue to open files on individual traders who are attending reptile fairs and posing as hobbyists. Established animal dealers and cottage industry breeders, in an attempt to circumvent the law, are claiming that they are simply selling their own pets at these events. The Inland Revenue investigation will consider activities at recent and any pending reptile fairs.

Mr R Shaw
Intel Section
Inland Revenue
1 St Blaise Way

October 8, 2002

Dear Mr Shaw


I refer to our previous correspondence and our endeavours in providing you with information about specific animal markets that involve both established animal traders as well as a large cottage industry component that also sell animals, typically reptiles, amphibians, birds and invertebrates at such events. Substantial progress has been made in preventing these markets due to the recent and more rigorous application of the Pet Animals (Amended) Act. The Act makes it an offence to sell animals in any public place or market. Unlicensed pet selling from other premises, including a private dwelling, in the course of a business is also an offence. Several local authorities have, however, not acted in accordance with guidance issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the R.S.P.C.A., Animal Aid and others that clearly outlines the illegal nature of these wildlife markets.

Concern about these events is growing and it has been expressed to Animal Aid that many of those who trade animals at ‘one-day events’ and may make significant sums of money, do not operate formal businesses but front their trading activities as an elaborate hobby. In fact, we are aware that traders have deliberately mis-represented themselves as private breeders as a device to circumvent the law. It is our view that both organisers and participants, along with the groups to which they belong, warrant particular ongoing investigation with regards to their physical dealings and their financial histories.

We have taken the opportunity to visit several recent events (notably, but not exclusively, in Norwich and Redditch) where local authorities had not taken sufficient advance action to prevent their occurrence. During these investigations, we have accumulated considerable digital visual recordings of participants, their identities and business activities at these markets, and seller promotional information, as well as gathered supporting background material about their operations.

Accordingly, we enclose this visual material as well as business cards and price lists as evidence of multiple transactions and seller histories for your additional consideration. We have learned of other proposed unlawful markets and have tracked numerous individuals who may attend these events. As always we, and our technical advisors, are at your disposal to provide specific information about all the events in question as well as their participants.

Additional information about the legal and practical matters associated with these events is also attached in the various appendices.

We will continue to monitor prospective events and forward material as matters progress.

Yours sincerely

Elaine Toland
Campaigns Officer, Animal Aid


  • A guidance note issued by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) on the legal status of bird and reptile fairs.
  • Further guidance from the CIEH on member only events – please note section (e), that no sales of pet animals in the course of a business may take place at the event.
  • A list of quotes from experts and local authorities.
  • A list of expert opinions on reptile fairs.
  • Further expert opinion on ‘members’ and ‘breeders’ meetings.
  • A letter from Bradford Council regarding ‘members’ and ‘breeders’ meetings that took place in their jurisdiction.
  • A legal opinion from barrister, Mark Love, the UK’s leading authority on the Pet Animals Act on a ‘members’ and ‘breeders’ meeting in Bradford.
  • Video taped footage of bird trading.
  • Business cards, price lists etc.


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