Sir Wyn Williams has granted permission to the applicants – a new company formed by dealers and collectors called the Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures Ltd (FACT) – to challenge the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on aspects of the act.
The judge noted the applicants’ argument that trade in pre-1947 worked ivory is already covered in EU law and therefore “raises a point of some considerable difficulty and importance in European law”.
The hearing will take place some time in October 2019 “if that is reasonably practicable”, a note from the Queen’s Bench Division Administrative Court stated.
The government will be required to argue its case at the High Court hearing.
'Incompatible with EU law'
If FACT is successful in its challenge, "this could result in the court declaring the relevant provisions of the Ivory Act incompatible with EU law; this would effectively render them invalid”, BADA said in a note to FACT supporters on Monday, July 15.
“It would mean that the law could have no effect unless and until the government passed new legislation."
Modern ivory poaching context
The ban on the UK trade of antique ivory, first promised by the Conservative party in its 2015 manifesto and coming close to reality when the Ivory Act received Royal Assent in December 2018, is being introduced by the government as a response to the rise in modern poaching of elephant ivory.
Opponents of the act have argued – in parliamentary debates and in the letters pages of ATG – that the law will be hard to implement and would fail to stem modern ivory poaching.
Helen Carless, chairman of SOFAA, told ATG in January 2019 that the act would “have a very real impact on SOFAA members. At the very least it will make low priced items containing more than 10% ivory impossible to sell".
Call for donations
FACT is calling for further donations to fund the legal challenge.
Donors are asked to provide their name, current address, contact details and the amount of donation in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before making a payment using one of the following methods:
By bank transfer direct to BADA’s bank account: Bank: Coutts & Co, Sort code: 18-00-02, Account number: 00089001
By cheque: Cheques should be made payable to “BADA” and sent to BADA's offices at 21 John Street, London WC1N 2BF
Credit or debit card: Please call BADA's offices on 020-7589 4128 to provide your card details
Read ATG’s Guide to the UK Ivory Ban here.