Diploma in Art Profession Law and Ethics

This intensive, interactive course is designed to introduce both art professionals and lawyers to the specific legal risks and safeguards that underpin all art transactions. It covers buying and selling, lending and borrowing, donating and accepting, disposing and giving away. It will also teach how to avoid legal trouble and how to get the legal advantage.

    By the end of the course you will:

  • Have the knowledge and expertise to apply legal principles to issues that frequently arise in the art world
  • Be familiar with the ethical issues that arise when acquiring art, as well as for museums and galleries
  • Have an understanding of the UK law in this regard, as well as the larger international rules that exist to protect cultural heritage and prohibit its illicit trade

Register now


The course is running over seven months from June to December 2021, with sessions one Saturday a month. The dates are: 5 June, 3 July, 7 August, 11 September, 9 October, 13 November, 11 December. Sign up may be possible after the first session (recordings are available).

Method of delivery

Usually run in central London, the course will now take place entirely online (delivered via Zoom). We will work to accommodate those in other time zones.


This course is open to both lawyers and non-lawyers. Applicants should either hold a recognised law degree or possess relevant experience in the field of art or antiquities. Numbers will be limited in order to allow participative discussions.


The seven month course is assessed by three written assignments, each numbering 3,000 words and the week-long course by 2 written assignments.


    The seminars are led by Alexander Herman (Assistant Director, IAL) and Emily Gould (Senior Researcher, IAL), with support from other experts at the IAL and a number of guest lecturers. For recent intakes, the guest lecturers have included:

  • Tony Baumgartner (Judge of the Circuit Court and former partner at a major London firm)
  • Luke Harris (barrister, 5 Stone Buildings)
  • Richard Harwood QC OBE (barrister, 39 Essex Chambers)
  • Simon Fitzpatrick (Partner, Boodle Hatfield LLP)


£1,800 including VAT (£1,500 ex. VAT). Discounts are available for IAL and UKRG members.


“Really enjoyed it. Well thought-out and wide-ranging.”
“A fantastic course! Thanks!”

See also the interviews on the blog with two alumni from the course, English solicitor Rudy Capildeo and American attorney Stephanie Drawdy.


Subject to change

Day 1 – Ownership and Civil Recovery
How do people prove they have ownership of cultural objects? Do finders get title? What about buyers of stolen goods, or people who inherit looted antiquities, or receive them as gifts? How do the victims of art theft recover their property? Are innocence, good faith or due diligence a defence? How does the passage of time affect the ownership of property?

Day 2 – Copyright and Moral Rights
What do museums, galleries and artists have to know about intellectual property rights? What is copyright and how will it affect the management of works of art? What are moral rights and how can they impact the current possessor of an artwork? What are artists’ resale rights and what are the implications for dealers?

Day 3 – Art Crime and Acquisitions
What crimes might the art professional commit or fall victim to when dealing in art or antiquities? What are the specific offences related to cultural property (including items coming out of Syria and Iraq)? What aspects of heritage crime need to be understood? How does all of this affect acquisitions on the market? What ethical considerations must be brought to bear? What effect will an ethical code have on a museum, gallery or art market participant?

Day 4 – Deaccession and Restitution
What are the legal and ethical considerations for museums looking to deaccession works from their collections? Where do law and government stand on claims for the return of Holocaust-related art, or sacred objects looted in past centuries, or human remains? Should the market deal in such material? When should and could institutions return looted cultural objects, even when the looting occurred in the distant past?

Day 5 – Contracts and Authenticity
How do we understand a contract when it involves the loan or sale of valuable artefacts or works of art? What are the best practices for ‘sealing the deal’ when it comes to the acquisition of cultural property? How do auctions operate? And what happens if you acquire a fake or a forgery through a sale agreement? Are there legal recourses against the seller?

Day 6 – Archaeology and Treasure
How does the law protect the built environment and our archaeological history? How do we define treasure and how is it protected in England and Wales? What is the fate of finds that are deemed not to be treasure?

Day 7 – Tax and Exports
How can art professionals best manage issues relating to the export of works of art, either temporarily or permanently? What is immunity from seizure for objects brought in on loan, and how does it work? How are cultural assets subject to the tax regime (including incentive schemes)?

Register now!

To register for the next intake complete the application form and return to Jo Crabtree at jo.crabtree@nullial.uk.com.