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Although claimants were asked to submit forms relating to the international tranche of the settlement before a deadline of December 10, 2003 (later extended to January 2004), as yet no cheques have been issued by the administrators.

No payment can be made until every claim has been validated, those processing the settlement have explained.

The ongoing delay has led to rising concern among those waiting for payment, including many Antiques Trade Gazette readers, some of whom have contacted the paper over the matter in recent weeks.

Sotheby’s lawyers in New York and class-action legal specialists Garden City Group (GCG) of Melville, New York both said the procedure was taking time because in this case a pro rata settlement was agreed. This means that nothing can be paid out from the fixed compensation fund until every single claim has been assessed. The exact amount each claimant is entitled to will be determined by the final number of valid claimants and the size of their claim.

GCG say they are diligently processing the follow-up claims forms as they arrive but added that a small percentage of these require additional research and investigation to ensure their validity.

The auction houses are working with GCG to research any disputed claims and once that process is completed, and court approval of the settlement payments received, payments can go ahead. Even now, however, noone can say how long this will take.