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


This course will run over seven months beginning in January 2019. The first five sessions are as follows: 12 January, 9 February, 9 March, 6 April, 4 May 2019. Dates for the remaining two sessions will be confirmed shorty.


This course will be run at Notre Dame University, London Campus, 1 Suffolk St, London, SW1Y 4HG


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 course is assessed by three written assignments, each numbering 3,000 words.



£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!”


Subject to slight change

Day 1 – Artists’ 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 artists’ resale rights and what are the implications for dealers?

Day 2 – Art Crime
What crimes might the art professional commit or fall victim to when dealing in art or antiquities? What happens in England to people accused of crimes in overseas countries? 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?

Day 3 – Title 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 do limitation periods work?

Day 4 – Repatriation and Restitution
What is the impact of international cultural property conventions on the trade in looted antiquities? 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 – Dispute Resolution and Museum Ethics
Is compliance with the law enough or is there a higher standard of behaviour? What effect will an ethical code have on a museum or gallery? Are ethical obligations in relation to cultural property “legally” binding? What are the alternatives to going to court? Is law becoming defunct in art-related disputes? Are there possibilities of mediation in art-related dispute? How satisfactory will the outcome be?

Day 6 – Managing Cultural Assets
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 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)?

Day 7 – Sites, Monuments, Treasure and Finds
How does the law protect the built environment and our archaeological history? How do we define treasure and how is it saved for the nation? What is the fate of finds that are deemed not to be treasure?

Apply now!

To apply please download an application form. Once completed, please return the form to jo.crabtree@nullial.uk.com. The course will run subject to sufficient interest.