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Nearly two years after its rushed introduction in the Republic of Ireland, the Artist’s Resale Right is still causing confusion among auctioneers, dealers, artists and aministrators.

The difficulties stem from the nature of the levy’s introduction. The Irish government was forced to adopt the European Union directive hurriedly on June 13, 2006, after artist Robert Ballagh took legal proceedings against them for missing the EU’s deadline.

But the measure has still not been passed through parliament as an Act of the Oireachtas, the stage at which final decisions will be taken over optional and discretionary elements of the directive. And it is these areas of the measure that are causing confusion.

Back in June 2006 Minister for Trade and Commerce Michael Ahern announced that the threshold value for qualifying works would be temporarily set at €3000, but stated his intention to look at this again with a view to lowering it, possibly to the UK level of Euro1000.

Two years on, this has still not happened. Nor has any decision been taken on other discretionary features, such as how long collecting agencies should have to collect the levy (in the UK it is three years), who should pay it (buyer or seller) or even whether there should be a default collecting agency.

Brian McCabe of the Intellectual Property Unit of the Republic’s Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment, was surprised by ATG’s discovery that leading Irish auction houses were confused over aspects of ARR.

Some thought that the rules meant they had to charge the buyer, as UK auction houses tend to do, while others thought they should be charging the seller. Mr McCabe said it was clear “that on completion of the sale, the seller is liable to pay the resale royalty due”.

Despite this, he he said that on reflection it would probably be left up to the dealer or auction house to decide who incurs the charge when Mr Ahern completed his ongoing review of intellectual property laws.

As for the Euro3000 threshold, Mr McCabe said they still intended to lower it but: “It has not yet been decided to what level it will be reduced.” He did not know when the review would be completed, but hoped it would be before the end of the year.