Antiques trade fails to kill off landmark UK Ivory Act
The landmark UK Ivory Act has passed yet another legal challenge from the
antiques trade in an authoritative ruling issued on 18th May by the Court of Appeal.
The Act was introduced after EPI Partner organisation Environmental Investigation Agency
(EIA) revealed, in its ground-breaking research in 2017, that the UK was the world’s
leading exporter of antique ivory, particularly to China and Hong Kong – two illegal
trade hotspots for poached ivory.
Despite being passed in 2018 with overwhelming popular support and cross-party
Parliamentary backing, the Act has twice been challenged by a small group of traders
operating as Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures (FACT), at a judicial review in the
High Court in November 2019 and again at an appeal this February against the High
Court’s decision in favour of the Act.
Shruti Suresh, EIA Senior Wildlife Campaigner, said: “With this decisive result, both
the UK High Court as well as a three-judge bench of the Court of Appeal have upheld
the validity and legality of the UK Ivory Act.
“With a 2017 survey showing 85 per cent of the British public supported a ban on all
ivory trade, with a few narrow exemptions, it’s been frustrating to see this Act delayed
for so long while an estimated 55 African elephants are poached every day for
“Now that this legal hurdle has been cleared, we look forward to seeing the law rolled
out as soon as possible and vigorously enforced– we’ve already lost too many
elephants while FACT dragged out the process in pursuit of antiques traders’ narrow
Alice Railton, Head of Operations at the Elephant Protection Initiative (EPI)
Foundation, said: “This is very good news for Africa’s elephants. The majority of
African governments want all legal trade in ivory to stop. We hope the UK Government
will implement the Act without further distractions.”
The UK’s exports and domestic market contribute significantly to ongoing demand for
ivory by perpetuating its perceived value in the eyes of consumers and making it
The UK helped create the new international consensus against the idea of ivory being
seen as a commodity. The European Commission is currently looking at legislation of
its own based on the UK Ivory Act and other countries such as Australia, New Zealand
and Singapore have introduced, or are considering, similar laws.