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It is hard to think of a lawyer who both understands the workings of the art market and the complexities of Droit de Suite as well as Simon Stokes. Here he capitalises on that knowledge with Artist's Resale Right, a slim volume published by the Institute of Art and Law, with just about everything you need to know on the subject.

It's a year since the European Union directive came into force, cutting living artists a slice of the price on all subsequent sales of their work above a threshold of about £600. Here Mr Stokes sets out the workings of the system in a practical manner, as well as arming us with some statistics on the likely fallout if the full directive - benefiting the heirs of dead artists - comes into force in the next few years.

Handily - and with great modesty - his preface tells the reader which chapters to read and which to skip depending on their needs. Whichever you find relevant, dinner party conversations can only be enhanced by Chapter One's arguments for and against the measure.

Here the evenhanded Mr Stokes cannot avoid packing in as much ammunition for the opponent as possible, quoting one academic, legal and economic expert after another on the iniquities of the directive. It is telling that in such a context, the arguments for the measure seem tepid at best. Impress your dinner guests with John Henry Merryman's notable putdown: "knowledgeable people... see [Droit de Suite] as a text book example of uninformed good intentions in support of a bad cause".

With a clear and detailed index, this book is easy to use and, among other useful snippets, contains a tabled summary of how other EU states have implemented the directive. Their varied nature makes one wonder whatever happened to 'harmonisation', the driving political force behind its imposition.

Finally, Mr Stokes adds the key caveat that any legal book is only current on the day it is
published. He rightly advises the reader to check for periodic updates on the internet at www.droitdesuite.org.uk from the spring of 2007. It is bookmarked on my computer already.

Copies of the book (ISBN 1-903987-15-6), priced at £17, may be ordered via the Institute of Law website at http://www.ial.uk.com

By Ivan Macquisten