Art Law Services

As my profile may indicate I have spent a significant part of my life in the art world. I believe I am uniquely placed to understand the problems that face the art trade, art dealers, art agents, auction houses, museums and the art consumers.

My years in the art world have shown me that many people fear using lawyers, they think that lawyers do not understand the art market, they think that the self-regulation the art market has enjoyed should carry on and they fear the expense. I understand those fears. However it is my belief that many people in the art world do not really understand how the modern lawyer operates and how they can assist them and protect them.

Click Here For Examples Of Cases

Here are some examples of my cases:

  • Ongoing advisory work for collector clients and art agents; reviewing contracts and sales transactions and dealing with auction houses;
  • Ongoing assistance in dispute over a potentially forged artwork involving an auction house;
  • Ongoing assistance in dispute over a stolen artwork involving an auction house;
  • Advised in a potential stolen art claim case concerning artworks that have ended up in public institutions;
  • Advised in a potential claim against an auction house concerning the condition and value of an artwork;
  • Advised in a potential claim against an auction house concerning the advice given pre-sale.
  • Drafted contracts for co-ownership of artwork, for commissioning of artwork and advising on agents agreements.
  • Successfully represented an art student whose work was destroyed by an Art College.
  • Successfully represented an art dealer in a case against UK Border Force, challenging a decision to refuse to restore extremely rare ivory antiques to the art dealer. The issues concern the export licence, CITES and public interest considerations set against heritage issues and the right to peaceful enjoyment of property.
  • Advised a client in a potential title dispute arising out of a will, over an alleged work by a famous English Romantic painter;
  • Advised a solicitor’s firm acting for an art agent on potential sales of several paintings.
  • Advisory work for collector and overseas lawyers regarding a private collection.
  • Recently drafted agent agreement for dealer representing collector in sale of large collection of antique art.
  • Copyright advice for an up and coming artist; whose specialism is illustrations. Recently advised on contract to produce several artworks for a newly established business. The advice covered copyright issues, particularly licensing and moral rights issues.
  • Copyright and contractual advice for an art animation company on copyright issues arising out a contract between the animation company and top music company for the creation of promotional lyric videos for famous bands.
  • Advised and assisted art dealer acting as agent for dealers in the US on the potential sale of a major Renaissance painting over a six month period in Europe. Involved in drafting contracts, reviewing all sales documentation and expert reports and attended on meetings with potential buyers and Museum directors in Russia, Italy, & France.
  • Other advisory work has included: advising an art dealer on a dispute over title and a pending auction sale; an art seller on a national treasure issue that has arisen at auction and an art agent on cultural heritage issues.

Why Involve an Art Barrister?

Lawyers are not there for when things go wrong, we are certainly expert problem solvers. However, I believe the most satisfying part of being a lawyer is helping clients not get into trouble in the first place. Lawyers are not just there to go to court, instead we put at your disposal – a range of services which I believe are of great assistance:


We are expert at finding the very best points and presenting them in the most attractive and effective way; this skill is not reserved just for legal argument but can be a powerful tool in sale negotiations.

Lawyers are also experts at considering and drafting agreements and ensuring that clear and well- defined terms, are included in those agreements to protect against the lack of clarity and confusion that sometimes can arise in deals. I know many dealers still try to construct high value deals on the basis of a hand shake and gentleman’s agreement and find themselves in grave difficulties when the deal goes sour – such as pieces being sold without the consent of the full or part owner or when shares are denied or when loans are made to buy shares which are not honoured. I have seen many such problems.

I fundamentally believe that in the modern age it is both undesirable and unnecessary to practice in this way. I do not know of any other business sectors in the 21st century that conduct themselves without basic legal protections.

As we are very often used to thrash out deals between parties to prevent them going to court, whether this is at a mediation or a round- the- table discussion. All barristers are skilled negotiators.

They also bring the ability to consider arguments dispassionately and unemotionally and can take the heat out of a situation that may seem irreconcilable.

Other key skills that barristers’ brings to the table are judgment and analysis. It is vital in our business to understand when people are being untruthful and when people are over selling their case and I believe you develop a “nose for it.”

The barrister also has extensive skills of analysis – in order to present an argument effectively it is vital to subject your own argument and that of your opponents to the greatest of scrutiny, from all angles. An argument that has been fiercely tested for weakness is often one that can be presented with the greatest confidence.

A good barrister will look at the weakness of their own argument as well as that of their opponents. This skill can assist the art world in many ways. For instance, I have been asked to look at provenance issues in sales and have often identified weaknesses and made suggestions on how these may be remedied.

I have also had extensive experience in analysing expert reports from all manner of experts. I have learnt to dissect expert reports to get to the heart of its strengths and weaknesses. I am not impressed by rhetoric or impressive sounding credentials.

Key to the role of the barrister however is integrity and discretion. A barrister’s duty lies fundamentally to his client and I pride myself in offering practical, common sense and easily understandable advice. I say it how it is.

Lawyers are paid for their opinions and their advice and this is what I give. I tell my clients what they need to know, not what they want to know.

Examples Of Cases I Can Help With

At the moment we can advise in the following areas:

  • on deals and protecting the dealer and their assets, I will sit down with you and if necessary with the other people in the group and advise how that deal can be constructed as matter of law to protect everybody. This can be done quietly and discreetly;
  • Equally I can be with you to negotiate the terms of the deals with the other parties;
  • The deals may involve purchase loans or consignments. I can oversee the agreements covering the protection of art work being displayed at exhibitions or in other gallery spaces;
  • I can structure the agreements to protect you as best I can;
  • For those buying art – I can consider the sales documentation, the provenance and expert reports and undertakings given and advise you on whether or not you would have an effective remedy if any of the inducements to your buying prove to be wrong or negligent or dishonest;
  • If you are lending or borrowing a piece – I can scrutinise the agreements and the penalty clauses that may be hidden within it, to see whether it truly is in your best interests;
  • I can look at insurance policies and agreements with you as well to make sure that your position and or asset is protected as good as it can be;
  • If you have bought or sold a piece where there are disputes as to the accuracy of the pieces, provenance, authorship or title I can help – I can scrutinise the sales materials relied upon and I can advise whether faults lies with other parties and help extricate you from the situation– if that means litigating against other parties then so be it, but I would hope discreet negotiation could be the way to resolving these issues;
  • Alternative dispute resolution is justifiably a very proper way of resolving such disputes in 21st century – discreet, cost effective and efficient;
  • If you have been involved in either having your art work stolen, fabricated, copied or are accused of doing this. I can help. I work with a team of specialist fraud and money laundering barristers and we can offer you expert to the point advice on how these issues can be resolved;
  • If you are buying or selling a piece at an auction and you believe that the auctioneer advised you incorrectly as to matters like reserve prices or even attribution I can help;
  • Further if you have bought or sold a piece at auction for which somebody else is claiming ownership I can also help you get to the bottom of who owns the title of the piece and if necessary what possible causes of action may lay against the parties involved;
  • I offer advice on the impact on the International conventions which prohibit the sale of items perceived to be cultural heritage artifacts – if you are proposing to buy or sell an item and are concerned as to the legality of that sale in international law, particularly if there are potential arguments that other people may own the piece; I can help;
  • I am particularly enthusiastic about cases that preserve the intellectual property rights of artists. Without a stream of modern cutting edge art work – the art market will lose relevance and will die. I believe that artists that give their enormous talent and effort to producing pieces of work that can be enjoyed by millions must have their rights to their creative works vigorously upheld. Against those who seek to copy it, plagiarise it, knock it off and try and sell it for a quick buck on auction websites. If this is your predicament or you are concerned about this. I can advise you on what steps you need to take to protect yourself and what you can do to undo the damage and get compensation;
  • If your work has been ripped off or copied. I can help you;
  • If you are an artist that want to profit on their IP by allowing people under-licence to produce and distribute your work I can also help.

I should stress that although I will personally work on your case, I also have at my disposal a team of other specialist lawyers who may come in to assist us if necessary.

If a case has international, criminal or tax or trust issues – then I will advise you to work as part of a team with a colleague with expertise in this field.

I believe in case ownership but I also recognise that the most effective legal solution at the most cost effective price can often be produced with the assistance of a specialist team all pushing together to achieve your goal. If you wish to discuss a case with me then please go to my contact me page for details of my free thirty minute consultation offer that way you can meet me and I hope you will then recognise how I can help you.