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In recent weeks, members of the trade have received forms through the post asking them to confirm their business details for inclusion in a fairs guide for the Olympia Fine Art and Antiques Fair. The guide, which the Antiques Trade Gazette has been advised is not breaking the law in the way it publishes the forms, is not associated with the fair in any way and the form states this clearly.

The form advises dealers to fill in their details carefully and warns them that by signing at the bottom they are entering into a legally binding contract. But it is only in the small print that the terms of the contract spell out that the listing is not free and that those signing the document are agreeing to pay sums of at least several hundred pounds. In addition, that sum may go into the thousands if further listings are not cancelled by a stipulated date.

Many dealers have fallen victim to what they claim is a scam because they have filled in the forms in a hurry, without reading the small print, believing them to be no more than a free listing.

The FAIRGuide, operated by a company called Construct Data Verlag GmbH out of Austria, has been sending out the forms for at least two years, leading to many complaints to the Gazette from the trade.

In the past, the Gazette has been assured by Construct Data Verlag GmbH that they would make the forms clearer to avoid confusion, but the latest form sent to us from a dealer in south west London shows that no such changes have been made.

Anyone receiving a form asking them to confirm details is strongly advised to check the small print before signing or applying their business stamp to it. Those who have already signed and are faced with unexpected bills should seek professional legal advice and check that the promised listing has actually been published as promised.

The Gazette would be interested in hearing from anyone in the trade who has had similar difficulties and especially from anyone who has resolved them satisfactorily.