Britain Sheds EU Laws Governing Importation of Art

January 7 2021

Image of Britain Sheds EU Laws Governing Importation of Art

Picture: Sky News

Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz:

The Art Newspaper has published an article on the swift changes made to the laws that govern the importation of art in Britain. The UK government, which has recently exited the European Union, has rejected new EU import licensing regulations for cultural property which were introduced in 2019 and were due to be enforced in 2025. The regulations were a part of an attempt to prevent crime and the funding of terrorism through the sale of art, yet in turn had much broader implications for the art market.

To quote the article's summary of the rules:

It [the regulations] effectively removes any back stop on the seizure and return of goods illegally removed from their source countries. This would mean that anything from paintings to pots exported hundreds of years ago, or even longer, in breach of local laws of the time can be confiscated and returned under the measures, regardless of subsequent good faith purchase, treaty and convention considerations or the normal statutes of limitation.

Such a far-reaching power is arguably unprecedented in the history of the art market, with serious implications for property rights and business...

In this respect, the UK follows the US now in possessing no similar regulations to the EU in these matters.

Update - Alexander Herman had published an article on Brexit and the Importation of Cultural Goods earlier in December, pointing out that the government have stated that they will follow the EU regulations after all. The article is well worth a read.

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