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The Auction Houses Litigation Service started sending out the compensation application forms on November 19, and many have already hit UK doormats. They must be completed and returned in envelopes postmarked no later than February 25 next year.

The BADA are further advising members that if they have not received their forms by Christmas, they should contact the Auction Houses Litigation Service in the United States on (001) 888 469 4788.

From the evidence so far, it appears that claimants are being sent a separate form for each account they held at each auction house. Each form has a printed list of items shown to have been bought through the relevant account from the period January 1, 1993 to February 2, 2000.

Claimants who agree that the forms are accurate need only sign and return them by the due date. Those who believe that items have been missed off the printed list may add details of them in the space provided but must include supporting documentation to back their additional claim.

Importantly, the BADA warn, those who do not return the signed and completed forms by the deadline will not receive compensation.