Petra Warrington contributes to the International Bar Association’s Art law: Restrictions on the export of cultural property and artwork handbook

  • December 03, 2020
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The updated 2020 version of the Art law: Restrictions on the export of cultural property and artwork handbook has now been published, with parts of Petra Warrington’s contribution noted below:

1. What are the key characteristics of your country’s regulations on cultural heritage and national patrimony? The UK does not have any overarching legislation which deals with cultural heritage and national patrimony. There are, however, specific rules concerning the protection, ownership and dealing in cultural property, such as rules in relation to treasure found in the ground, the conservation of monuments and archaeological sites, exporting cultural property and recovering stolen property.

2. Under your national law, which criteria must be met in order to classify goods as cultural property? The criteria for classifying goods as cultural property vary according to their context. In the export control context, the Export Control Act 2002 and the Export of Objects of Cultural Interest (Control) Order 2003, capture ‘any objects of cultural interest manufactured or produced more than 50 years before the date of exportation’, subject to exceptions such as postage stamps and certain personal documents and correspondence belonging to the exporter.

3. What are the legal consequences arising from classifying an asset as cultural property? Does the classification of a private asset as cultural property affect the right of ownership? Generally, the classification of an asset as cultural property does not affect the right of ownership although it may restrict the owner’s rights in relation to the property, for example the right to move the property freely across borders. In the export control context, a determination that an object is of national cultural importance has no bearing on the private ownership of that object, although it may affect the owner’s ability to export the object. The export of objects of cultural interest is prohibited except under the authority of a licence granted by the Secretary of State for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Export controls are also currently imposed by Council Regulation (EC) No 116/2009 which requires a Community licence to export out of the European Union ‘cultural goods’ as defined in Annex I of that Regulation

The publication is available to download as separate country chapters or as a full PDF on the IBA website.

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