Representatives from dealer bodies BADA and LAPADA, auctioneer association SOFAA and the ADA (Antiquities Dealers’ Association) met last week to agree topics for legal consideration.
These include the potential for a judicial review into how Defra conducted its public consultation as well as elements of the proposed legislation.
The bill contains details of the ban (see box, page 4), as outlined by Defra in April. Industry leaders declared surprise at the speed with which it has been published.
However, environment secretary Michael Gove defended the timing, saying: “We have acted quickly in introducing this bill, less than six weeks after publishing our consultation responses. I hope this serves as a clear sign of our global leadership on this vital issue.”
The government will host an international conference about the illegal wildlife trade on October 10-11, at which Defra is expected to highlight progress with the ban.
The bill’s publication is the first stage in the process for it to become law. Debate starts in the House of Commons on June 4, and then at a later date in the House of Lords.
ATG understands that the associations had a first consultation with solicitors last week.
In a statement, BADA emphasised the government’s “eagerness to press ahead” and said the coalition of tradebodies would “represent the concerns of a wide community of those affected by this proposed legislation including collectors, curators and academics, who at the same time condemn the international trade in illegal poached ivory”.
It added that “fundraising is well under way to ensure that the coalition is able to present its case effectively”.
The Public Monuments & Sculpture Association has agreed not to seek separate legal advice on a challenge to the ban (ATG No 2341) and to support the art and antiques trade coalition in its fundraising efforts (see Letters, 59).
Defra said: “The consultation ran for 12 weeks and we engaged with stakeholders and gathered information. The ban takes account of the views and evidence received.”
■ Anyone wishing to support the action should contact Mark Dodgson, BADA secretary general on 020 7589 4128 or email email@example.com.
Read ATG's guide to the UK ivory ban