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The Royal Courts of Justice in London, where the Court of Appeal will hear the case against the Ivory Act 2018 and its near-total ban on trade in antique ivory.

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However, Mr Justice Robert Jay allowed room for FACT (the Friends of Antique and Cultural Treasures Limited) to apply for an appeal, which the group has decided to pursue.

In a 100-page judgment, published on November 5, the judge declared himself “sympathetic” to arguments that FACT made in court in October (ATG No 2414).

Meanwhile DEFRA, the defendant in the judicial review, has said it will “press ahead” with bringing the act into force.

As it prepares to seek permission to take its claim to the Court of Appeal, FACT has begun a new round of fundraising. In losing the judicial review, FACT is liable to pay DEFRA’s legal costs as well as its own.

A spokesman for FACT told ATG: “We are pursuing this appeal on behalf of collectors and the wider decorative arts community, whose plight has all butbeen ignored by government in rushing through this ill-conceived ivory ban.”

The judge agreed with several of FACT’s arguments made against DEFRA’s justification of the act’s trade ban.

‘Understated impact’

In particular, he was critical of the government’s assessment of the act’s likely effects, which “considerably understates the impact… on businesses, and fails completely to deal with collectors, whether they be amateur or expert”.

Mr Justice Jay also concluded theact was unlikely to have any effect on theillegal trade of ivory in the UKand in other countries.

However, he dismissed the challenge, on the basis of DEFRA’s argument that the act would show the UK’s leadership on anti-poaching and show solidarity with other countries with ivory trade bans, including the US and China.

The judge made this ruling, he said, “withsome regret, because I remain sympathetic to [FACT’s] case”.

DEFRA reaction

After the judgment’s publication on Tuesday, DEFRA said the government “will now press ahead to bring into force the ivory ban as soon as practicably possible, with a likely implementation date of early next year”.

Environment secretary Theresa Villiers said: “I welcome [this] ruling by the High Court which upholds the UK’s commitment to ban the ivory trade.”

To donate to the FACT appeal, the details are: British Antique Dealers’ Association, Coutts & Co, Acc No: 00089001, Sort code: 18-00-02.