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The law will then be formally approved by the Conseil d’Etat (Supreme Court) and decrees of application issued before it comes into effect, probably this Autumn.

Although France’s commissaires-priseurs remain unhappy about the level of compensation awarded for the loss of their monopoly, there now seems little prospect of their taking court action to delay the reform, according to Gérard Champin, president of the Chambre Nationale des Commissaires-Priseurs. “Progress in these matters is never totally satisfactory, but things have been moving in the right direction,” he told the Antiques Trade Gazette on June 8, before predicting that the reform will come into effect “round about October.”

Champin, who has been in office since 1992, says he will step down as National Auction President, “my mission accomplished”, once the new law is in place. The Chambre Nationale will maintain its role as the representative body of all commissaires-priseurs for a transitional period of two years. Commissaires-priseurs will then have to opt for either commercial or ‘ministerial’ status (restricted to court-order sales), with only the latter remaining under the aegis of the Chambre Nationale.