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In late January trade bodies BADA, LAPADA, SOFAA and the Antiquities Dealers’ Association joined forces to launch an industry survey in an attempt to quantify how the Ivory Act (2018) will impact art firms and collectors.

The deadline has been extended to close of play Monday, March 4 and responding is open to anyone with an interest in pre-1947 ivory objects.

The results may be used as part of what might become a legal challenge to the Act before it comes into force.  

Here, Sworders' Guy Schooling tells ATG why he has taken part and what's involved.

Guy Schooling, chairman of Essex auctioneer Sworders:

I have completed the industry’s ivory survey and urge all members of the trade – whether auctioneer, dealer or collector – to do likewise.

There is no excuse for ignoring the survey.

On a practical point first of all, the deadline for responses has been extended to close of play on Monday, March 4.

And speaking of practicalities, but to the wider context, I believe the ban as set out in the Ivory Act (2018) is destined to fail in its otherwise admirable mission to curb elephant poaching.

This legislation represents an over-simplified response to ivory poaching and will not, to my mind, save the life of a single elephant. 

To be clear, I abhor the killing and poaching of elephants and all wild animals. 

I have been on several photographic safaris in Africa which have been life-changing. Always a lover of wildlife, I detest poaching even more now that I have a deeper understanding of the issues involved. 

Full CITES enforcement

If I thought the ban would have a material effect on poaching, I would support it. 

However, I am convinced that if current CITES regulations were fully enforced, with no ivory being offered for sale that was sourced after 1947, this is quite sufficient to achieve what we all heartily desire: an end to poaching. 

Our financial estimate

Back to the survey: I have recorded that the ban will cost Sworders about £30,000 per annum in lost commission.

If you’re managing an art market firm you may, like us, be drowning in the increasing burden of administration that businesses must handle, not least that generated by GDPR, the data protection regulation introduced last year.

With this in mind, you have my word that the questionnaire, created by independent survey firm Woodnewton, really does only take a few minutes to complete. It genuinely aims to assess the material cost of the Ivory Act, set to enter the statute books later this year.

I would implore all those with an interest in our business to complete the questionnaire and support the BADA, which is leading the trade bodies on applying for a judicial review.

This brave undertaking is our only hope that the onerous Ivory Act may be modified into something slightly more reasonable.