Transparency, Integrity, Mobility and Security under Cross-Border Loans and other Sharing Transactions affecting Cultural Objects: A two-day conference in London organised by the Institute of Art and Law in association with the Foundation for International Cultural Diplomacy.
Great pressure exists on museums to maximise public access to their collections, rationalise collecting policies, craft new ways of sharing their resources and explore international commercial opportunities. Art collections have become diplomatic and economic assets as well as scholarly resources, and are expected to fulfil an ambassadorial role in international conditions where competition is mounting and “loan fees” offer seductive inducements. These developments are reflected in the rise of anti-seizure or immunity statutes that seek to protect cultural objects from entanglement in legal proceedings while on loan to foreign states. The United Kingdom statute, Part 6 of the Tribunals Courts and Enforcement Act 2007, is an inventive but controversial contribution to this trend.
But concurrently with its response to an increased demand for circulation, the museum world is developing a heightened appreciation of the perils of illicit material and of the need to refrain from all taint of profiting from prior dubious transactions. Museums that value their reputation need to devise ways of isolating such material from the ethical sphere of art lending and exchange and of securing the return of unlawfully removed objects to their dispossessed owners. Does legal immunity support or subvert that need?
Regrettably not every object in a museum collection, or accepted on loan by a museum from a private collector, will have an impeccable lineage. Some museums are for historical reasons reluctant even to exhibit material on their own premises, let alone to expose it to international scrutiny. Sometimes it may be obvious that an object has been illegally removed from a country of origin but impossible to determine that country.
The main object of the conference was to explore the balance between two paramount modern imperatives in the field of art and antiquities: the unhindered cross-border movement of cultural material by way of loan, exchange, joint ownership schemes and other means, and the vindication of legal and other interests in cultural objects so that legitimate principles supporting legal title and national heritage are honoured.
In pursuit of this objective, the conference looked in detail at the policies demanding cross-border mobility, the legal vehicles for achieving such mobility, the risks that threaten the itinerant work of art and the devices that exist to afford legal immunity or other protection. On the latter point particular focus was placed on the practical application and value of modern anti-seizure statutes, looking critically at their pragmatic workability and functional differences, as well as the searching questions of principle that they provoke.
The programme is set out below and is also available by clicking here.
Day One: International Law and cross-border claims to cultural objects
The Principle of Immunity: Promoting Public Access, Honouring Private Rights
Professor David Lowenthal
10.30 – 10.40
Art Claims and Public International Law
Kevin Chamberlain CMG
10.40 – 11.25
Commercial Transactions and State Immunity under Private International Law
Professor Kurt Siehr
11.45 – 12.05
12.05 – 12.25
Legal Archaeology and the Mobility of Title: Vindicating Title within Cross-Border Cultural Property Claims
Professor Norman Palmer
12.25 – 12.45
Regulating the Export of Cultural Goods: the Justiciability of National Export Laws
Jeremy Scott, Withers LLP
12.45 – 13.05
War Reparations, Restitution in Kind and Customary International Law
Charles Goldstein, Herrick Feinstein
14.00 – 14.20
Museums and Human Rights: the Natural History Museum episode and its Lessons for International Museums
Geoffrey Robertson QC
14.20 – 14.40
Anti-seizure laws and the European Convention on Human Rights
14.40 – 15.00
[The Legal Implications of
Close; Reception for speakers and delegates
Day Two: Anti-seizure statutes and safe conduct for itinerant art
Immunity of International Artwork Loans From Seizure versus Claims to Recover Wrongfully Expropriated Artwork:
Howard Spiegler, Herrick Feinstein,
10.15 – 10.45
The Nuts and Bolts of Museum Immunity: Devising a Balanced Regime of Safe Conduct for Itinerant Art
Freda Matassa, Museums Consultant, former Registrar, Tate
10.45 – 11.05
Operating a Due Diligence Regime under National Anti-Seizure Laws
Anna O’Connell, solicitor, Klein & Co
11.05 – 11.25
11.25 – 11.45
Cayetana Castillo, Head of Exhibitions,
11.45 – 12.05
Drafting an International Anti-Seizure Convention: is Cross-Border Agreement Attainable?
Kevin Chamberlain CMG
12.05 – 12.25
12.25 – 13.25
National Systems of Immunity from Suit and their Comparative Interrelation:
A panel question-and-answer session involving participants from several national jurisdictions, including Israel, Austria, England and Wales, Italy, Australia, Spain, USA, France, Greece, Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands.
13.25 – 15.00
Judge Shoshana Berman, Professor Manlio Frigo, Josh Knerly
15.00 – 15.15
15.15 – 16.50
Laura Pastor, Professor Matthias Weller, Dr Benno Widmer, Nout van Woudenberg, Anthony Baumgartner
16.50 Discussion and Closing Addresses