Author:Hommes, Julia Rodrigues Casella

The 'Art on the Move' Seminar was held by the Institute of Art and Law (IAL) with the generous support of Maurice Turnor Gardner LLP (MTG). The Seminar focused on the many aspects of international art transactions, such as issues of title, conflict of laws, export controls, bailment, insurance and transportation, art loans and even the potential impact of Brexit on existing contracts.

Following a warm welcome by Richard Turnor, Partner at MTG, Alexander Herman, Assistant Director at IAL, moderated the first panel on 'Buying and Selling Art across International Boundaries'. Ed Powles, Partner at MTG, puzzled the audience with an image of bananas. He then proceeded to enlighten his listeners as to the ways in which trading bananas is different from trading artworks or any other cultural heritage objects and what implications these significant differences have for contractual relations involving those precious objects. First and foremost, Ed explained how the rarity and fragility of these objects should warrant them more delicate consideration when it comes to stipulating the terms of one's agreement--and indeed, with bothering to have a written agreement to begin with--than one would normally have when buying and selling bananas. Nonetheless, he also pointed out that we should not stray too far from the commercial elements of these transactions to focus only on the beauty and scholarship of the objects themselves and he aptly reminded listeners that traditional contractual INCOTERMS can still--and often do--apply to international commercial transactions involving artworks. He was also wary of the fact that, even now, parties to art transactions still all too frequently rely on gentlemen's agreements without any written terms, as these unfailingly leave unsurmountable gaps on crucial elements, (1) such as choice of applicable law and forum. It is much easier, after all, to agree on these things before problems arise.

Building on the contractual elements of transactions, Anastasia Tennant, Senior Policy Adviser in the Collections and Cultural Property Team at the Arts Council England, gave a detailed explanation of the current system of export controls in place in the United Kingdom. She described the challenges of balancing, on the one hand, the need to deter trafficking and the illicit trade in art and cultural heritage and, on the other, the concern not to stifle legitimate trade, especially in a leading market, as is the UK art market. She also gave an account of a recent dispute involving the export ban effected as a result of the Arts Council England's inability to issue an export licence for an object known to have been illegally imported into the United Kingdom and how this inability stems from an EU legal...

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