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More details about the Ivory Ban

posted 6 Apr 2018, 15:09 by Tony Cattermole   [ updated 6 Apr 2018, 15:09 ]
Following the recent news on the Government ban on Ivory sales members will be interested in the following:-

We have received some commentary from BADA on the topic which may be of interest and help to members.

The de minimis amount of ivory below which it is proposed that objects can be sold without third party confirmation has been set at a very low 10%; in contrast to 20% for musical instruments. The trade argued for and justified a 50% cut off. Whilst 10% would still permit a considerable number of objects (including some inlaid items) to be sold without third party approval, it will prove a difficult percentage for the trade to administer. For a large number of objects this is because dealers will find it hard to decide on which side of the 10% cut-off their object lies. It will, of course, also make the sale of some inlaid items more difficult, if not impossible.

BADA will be pressing for the de minimis to be increased, and at the very least brought into line at 20% - it would be interesting to see the evidence the Government has to justify such a low threshold and to know why 20% is acceptable for musical instruments, but not for other cultural goods.

If the amount of ivory in objects lies above the threshold dealers/vendors would have to decide whether to apply to APHA to have them confirmed as being of the “rarest and most important of their type”. An application would be passed on to a museum or other institution which will allocate a member of staff to assess an item. Following their recommendation, it will be up to APHA to decide whether or not to issue a sale permit. Government have assured that the criteria for objects under this exemption would not be as high as used to stop the export of other cultural goods (Waverley). Defra will be working with the culture department (DCMS) and the Arts Council England to come up with statutory guidance on the defined exemption. Whether this will prove more restrictive than the BAMF suggestion that items be of “museum quality” remains to be seen.


For objects covered by the de minimis, musical instrument and portrait miniatures exemptions there will be a system of self-registration administered by the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA). It will entail registering the object online with a description/photograph and a document will be generated for the sale. The provider of the information will be legally responsible for ensuring that the object conforms to the criteria set out in the exemptions.

What next?

Whilst BADA (and we) welcome the overall concept of exemptions, they will draw to the Government’s attention the inconsistencies within its proposals, particularly concerning the unacceptably low “de minimis” threshold. Although there has not yet been an opportunity to review the other evidence taken account of by the Government, its approach is clearly more restrictive than the trade would regard as fair and proportionate and could prevent the sale of many culturally significant objects that have no connection to illicit poaching. BADA will also seek to have input into creating workable definition for the “rarest and most important” exemption. The timing of implementation is not clear at this stage, but measures will still need to get parliamentary approval in what is a busy legislative timetable.

BADA strongly believe there is a case for improvements to be made to the proposals and will put these forward to the Government, with our support. We all condemn the despicable poaching of African elephants, but the exemptions now appear tighter than is required to achieve the aim of stopping the illicit trade in their ivory.

We will advise any further news as it comes to us.