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SOFAA, founded in 1975 to provide a professional body for specialist auction firms throughout the UK, believe there is an increasing demand for them to play a role in defending the interests of valuers and auctioneers and to safeguard the highest professional standards.

The changes will involve the adoption of a new constitution, with members governed by rules rather than simply a code of conduct. Individual members, who must belong to firms that are already members, will initially be invited to join by the SOFAA committee, but thereafter will be selected through assessment on merit. They will be able to adopt the new designation ASFAV (Associate of the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers) as an indication of their standing and conduct within the profession.

The overall aim is for SOFAA to move from making a significant contribution to playing an essential role in the profession over the next two years.

Safeguarding professional standards, reinforcing confidence in the profession among clients and actively supporting educational development are all expected to be central to SOFAA’s concerns.

Chairman Chris Ewbank was delighted with the outcome of the ballot and said the committee would be working on the details of the proposals over the next few weeks. On opening SOFAA’s doors to valuers, he said: “Valuation is an integral part of the auction process and the Committee of the Society feel that it is an anomaly that valuers are excluded at present. I believe that this proposal will be of particular interest to many independent firms of valuers in the UK.”

The move to widen the society’s sphere of influence started some time ago, with the admittance of new members. In the past year alone nine have been added to the roll, including Sworders, Henry Adams, Holloways, Ridetts, Diamond Mills, Loves, Mallams, Mitchells and Andrew Hartley. Although the organisation will now be known as the Society of Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers, it will retain the acronym SOFAA.