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The Ivory Act – what it means for you

Wednesday 09 October 2019

Propertymark has five unique fact sheets covering everything you need to know about the Ivory Act, including exemptions, and enforcement. The Act received Royal Assent on 20 December 2018. DEFRA expects the legislation to come into force in late 2019.

Since Royal Assent, the UK Government has been consulting on extending the legislation to include the ivory of Common hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, sperm whale, killer whale, common warthog, desert warthog and mammoth within the ban. The consultation closed on 22 August 2019.

Furthermore, a High Court Judge has given the go-ahead for a full hearing on the legality of the Ivory Act, due to usher in a near-total ban on the UK trade in antique ivory when it comes into force later this year.

Sir Wyn Williams has granted permission to the applicants – a new company formed by dealers and collectors called the Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures Ltd (FACT) – to challenge the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on aspects of the act.

The judge noted the applicants’ argument that trade in pre-1947 worked ivory is already covered in EU law and therefore “raises a point of some considerable difficulty and importance in European law”.

The hearing is now due to take place sometime in October.

The Government will be required to argue its case at the High Court hearing. If FACT is successful in its challenge it could result in the court declaring the relevant provisions of the Ivory Act incompatible with EU law. The purpose of the Ivory Act is to prohibit commercial activities concerning ivory in the UK and the import and re-export of ivory for commercial purposes to and from the UK. This includes intra-EU trade to and from the UK.

The aim of the Act is to:

  • Remove the financial value of ivory
  • Reduce the opportunity for new ivory to be laundered through legal markets
  • Reduce the flow of ivory from the UK to overseas markets
  • Send a clear message that the UK does not consider ivory to be an acceptable commodity
  • Encourage other countries to take similar action.

The Ivory Act applies in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The ban in the Act applies to ivory from African and Asian elephants.

NAVA Propertymark will continue to update members as soon as future developments are announced. In the meantime, members should get to grips with proposed changes by using a suite of Fact Sheets.

Ivory Act Fact Sheets