The Ivory Act became law in December 2018 and severely restricts the sales of antiques containing ivory to a narrow range of items. The Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures Ltd launched a legal challenge to overturn the ban. On May 18th, 2020, the Court of Appeal dismissed its claim that the Ivory Act “went too far”.
The ban is one of the world’s strictest and prevents the sale of a large number of antique items that previously were traded legitimately. Museum-quality pieces, portrait miniatures painted on ivory a hundred years or more ago and musical instruments with 20% or less ivory are exempt from the ban.
Wildlife campaigners have welcomed the Court of Appeal’s decision. During the coronavirus pandemic, lockdown poaching increased as tourism collapsed in countries where elephants live. Tom Russell, a lawyer who specialises in luxury items, says that he does not dispute that modern ivory should be stopped as a significant drop in demand will protect elephants from being killed by poachers.
The antique trade argues that banning the sale of ivory antiques has no effect on modern poaching. Some dealers say that they will start trading outside of the UK to get around the ban. The antique trade could move to have the case heard by the UK Supreme Court, but have not announced whether it will do so.
Fortunately for antique lovers, it is easy to find beautiful antique desks, chests, cabinets and other items at Lancashire dealers that contain no ivory.
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