By: Rosalind English

“We believe that the legal market presents opportunities for criminals to launder recently poached ivory as old ivory products.” (Defra’s statement in consultation in introducing the Ivory Bill)

The Ivory Act 2018, which received Royal Assent in December 2018, proposes to prohibit ivory dealing with very limited exceptions. This includes antique items made with ivory. According to the Government, the Act contains “one of the world’s toughest bans on ivory sales”. No date has yet been fixed for it to become law.

The purpose of the Act is to enhance the protection of African and Asian elephants in the face of ongoing threats to their survival. It does so by prohibiting the sale, as opposed to the retention, of all ivory (that is, anything made out of or containing ivory), subject to a very limited and tightly defined exemptions. These prohibitions are backed by criminal and civil sanctions.

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One thought on “Proposed ban on ivory is lawful – including antiques

  1. Alex
    November 23, 2019

    Before this proposed ban comes into force, the antique trade has to rely on the seller correctly and honestly assessing the ivory to be pre-1947 and worked. It is disproportionately costly for the trade to use scientific testing such as carbon dating as a means of establishing an item to be worked pre-1947. The cost of testing (?400 or more) is more than the value of many items on sale and re-quires extracting a sample from the item which can also irreparably damage small or fine items due to the size of the sample needed. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2010 reports that

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