What national legislation governs cultural property issues?
The Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003 is of primary importance. It makes it an offence to deal dishonestly in tainted cultural property from anywhere in the world. It is essential that members of the trade in art, antiques and antiquities understand and comply with this legislation. Also important are the Theft Act 1968 (and in particular section 22, which relates to handling stolen goods), the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 and export regulations. More information on this can be found in Factsheet Legislation.
What international legislation governs the prevention of illicit trade?
UNESCO has produced a Cultural Heritage Laws Database. The database is reliant on member states submitting their own national legislation to the database. Factsheet Legislation lists legislation given by some countries in English. Understanding the export licensing restriction lists for other countries is essential in trading legitimately, but often very hard to do. The information that is available is contained in Factsheet International export control.
Some legal issues
All those dealing in, acquiring, buying or borrowing items of cultural property have a duty to:
- keep abreast of legal issues;
- understand the implications of non-cultural international legislation such as the European Convention on Human Rights and its fourteen protocols and national laws such as the Freedom of Information Act 2000;
- have sufficient knowledge of the legal issues to ensure that they are able to do what is right both in the spirit and the letter of the law, recognise a legal problem and understand whether expert advice is required.
How do I find out more about legal issues which affect my work?
Some institutions offer training on legal issues relating to the art and antiquities trade (see Learn More). Reading relevant journals such as those produced by the professional bodies (see Factsheet Professional trade associations) will also help to keep you in touch with events, as will subscribing to email discussion and distribution lists.