01 June 2007

Art and cultural assets news - summer: Islamic Republic of Iran v The Barakat Gallery

On 29 March the English court delivered judgment on two
preliminary issues in this case. It concerns 18 ancient
artefacts which it was assumed were illegally excavated in
the Jiroft region of south-eastern Iran and are held by an
antiquities dealer in London. The Judge held (on the first
issue) that the relevant laws of Iran, while affording the
Iranian state an “immediate right of possession” to them
when the items were in Iran, were insufficiently clear to ʻvestʼ
original ownership of the items in the Iranian state so as to
enable it to bring an action for ʻconversionʼ in the English
court. He went on to hold (on the second issue) that even if
Iranʼs laws on the point were crystal clear, the claim was not
ʻjusticiableʼ in the English courts, since the foreign state was
making a claim to ʻenforceʼ its ʻpublic lawsʼ.

Category: Article