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BAMF led the antiques industry's pitch to DEFRA to exempt certain categories of antique ivory from a total ban on the trade.

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Exemption explanation

BAMF expanded on this point in its submission to the recent government consultation.

In response to the question ‘How do you think an exemption for items of artistic, cultural, or historic significance should operate in practice?’ BAMF wrote as follows:

“We suggest that objects falling under this exemption should only be permitted for sale if accompanied by a certificate. We suggest that the criteria of artistic, cultural and historic significance should be collectively defined as being of ‘museum quality’.

A system of certification based on independent verification would be robust and enforceable

“The concept of museum quality is well understood in the art market and was used from 1975 in connection with objects that would qualify for conditional exemption from inheritance tax.

“There is therefore a workable precedent for this definition. It is broad enough to cover relatively minor objects that might be of limited value but are of historical significance (for example, Georgian theatre tokens).

“We propose that an independent group of experts approved by Animal and Plant Health Agency be set up to certify that each object meets at least one of the ‘artistic, cultural, or historic’ criteria.

“A system of certification based on independent verification would be robust and enforceable.

“A police officer seeing an ivory carving for sale would not need to make a judgment on its age or significance; they would simply need to ask if it was accompanied by the required certificate.

“The British Antique Dealers’ Association (BADA) and The Association of Art & Antique Dealers (LAPADA) already have in place a system for issuing formal certificates of age, which are recognised by overseas governments’ customs authorities when determining that an object is antique.

“We propose that these bodies should be responsible for issuing certificates, ensuring that they have been signed off by a member of the independent group of experts and taking responsibility for the associated record keeping.”