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Ivory ban consultation goes live: Have your say

Friday 13 October 2017

Nobody can deny that every measure should be taken to help protect the dwindling population of elephants, one of the most majestic animals on the planet. However, the ivory ban consultation announced today is sure to raise lots of questions and concerns for legitimate businesses.

Defra figures state that since 2006 the total number of elephants in Africa has decreased by 21%, primarily due to poaching and the UK Government believe tighter controls on trading ivory will go some way to curtailing the demise of the elephants.

The UK is the largest importer and exporter of art and antiques in Europe and a global centre for trade in art and antiques, and with the new proposition, the Government has ambitions for the UK to have amongst the most stringent rules in the world for trading in ivory.

The proposed ban would go significantly further than the current CITES rules, which the UK implement through EU regulations, with permits and certificates issued by The Animal Plant and Health Agency (APHA).

In the consultation announcement Environment Secretary Michael Gove, also made it clear that the Government is trying to tackle the ivory crisis at both ends of chain, making reference to the fact that the UK military trains an elite force of anti-poachers in African countries, and Border Force officers share their expertise in identifying smuggled ivory with counterparts worldwide to stop wildlife trafficking.

The consultation document itself also points out that a ban should not be seen in isolation, but as part of a comprehensive response to protect elephants from extinction.

Commenting on the consultation announcement, NAVA Propertymark Chief Executive, Mark Hayward said: 

“We welcome the publication of the consultation and look forward to engaging with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Government has stated that they will work with the antiques sector during the consultation to understand issues, set out definitions and look at exemptions.”

Summary of the consultation

We summarise the key areas for the consultation below, but it’s very important that you read the full consultation document so that you fully understand the wider issues at play, before responding.

The ban would prohibit UK sales of ivory and the import and export of ivory for sale to and from the UK.

Under the new proposals, ‘worked’ ivory of any age would be banned, an extension of the existing rules which allow worked or carved items produced before 3 March 1947 to be sold.

Existing rules in respect of the right to own, gift, inherit or bequeath items containing ivory will continue to apply, and the UK wide ban will incorporate, what the Government is calling ‘strictly defined exemptions’.

Musical instruments are specifically referred to throughout the consultation document, and respondents are asked:

“Do you agree that the Government should include an exemption to allow the continued sale of musical instruments containing ivory?”


“Do you have a view on what scope the musical instruments exemption should be? Should it be qualified, or refined, further than proposed in the consultation document?”

Another key area of concern for NAVA Propertymark members and one which auctioneers and valuers should be able to help provide evidence for will be the ‘de minimis’ exemption. This is items that only contain a small proportion of ivory, incidental to the attraction and value of the item (also likely to be integral, meaning it could not be removed and refashioned). The Government are seeking opinions as to what these thresholds should be.

Finally, it’s proposed that the sale of artistic, cultural or historic significance will be allowed to continue, including the continued sale of ivory to museums, and between museums.

It’s crucial that you can have your say in determining the scope of the ban, including how these exemptions could operate, how the ban should be enforced, and who should be responsible for enforcing the ban.  

Respond to the consultation

Consultation closes on 29 December 2017

Email: if you have any enquiries

As well as responding to the consultation directly, please also let Tim Douglas, NAVA Propertymark's Policy and Campaigns Officer know your views so we can campaign on your behalf and better understand your concerns. 

What happens next?

After the consultation, a summary of the responses will be available publicly on the Government website consultations page