UK Ivory Ban: End to the lawsuit but Ivory Act is not enforceable just yet

Posted on: September 25, 2020 by

The IAL blog has avidly followed the debate surrounding the UK’s position on the trade of ivory artefacts over the last two years, see June 2020 Update, November 2019 Update, July 2019 Update, May 2018 Update, April 2018 Update, January 2018 Update.

Image c/o Wikimedia Commons CC-BY (Stuart Bassil)

The latest development has seen the Supreme Court denying the request to appeal made by ‘Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures’ (FACT) against the Court of Appeals judgement in their lawsuit challenging the UK’s statute on the ivory trade, The Ivory Act 2018. FACT consisted of a small group of UK-based ivory antique traders who argued that the new legislation went too far and disproportionately interfered with the free movement of goods and fundamental property rights provided for in EU law.

This denial by the Supreme Court means that art and antiques dealers have now exhausted all their legal options. As such, it is only a matter of time before The Ivory Act 2018, which implements a near total ban on the trade of items containing ivory, will come into force. However, a consultation is still to be conducted by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). Its aim is to work out the specifics in regard to how parts of the Act should be interpreted, such as the phrase ‘of outstandingly high artistic, cultural or historical value’, which is particularly important in determining whether an object is exempt from the ban or not.

We look forward to reading the findings of this consultation and will give an update on the blog when this happens.

This blog post was written by Georgiana Stables and edited by Julia Rodrigues Casella Hommes.