Mediation in art law and cultural property disputes

Mediation in art law and cultural property disputes Featured


In 2006, a bitter dispute dating back to the Swiss religious wars of 1712 was finally and positively resolved in a case which related to a number of culturally and historically significant objects, resulting in the acknowledgement of rights by both sides,and a number of long term loans between the Swiss cantons and production of exact replicas.1 Similarly, in 2007 the remains of 17 Tasmanian aborigines, purchased by the Natural History Museum in London in the mid 19th century, were returned to Tasmania for burial with the Natural History Museum retaining the right to use genetic information previously extracted from the remains.2 Both of these cases were settled not through battle in open court with an award of substantial damages, but privately and amicably through a mediation process which culminated in the adoption of novel and creative solutions.

Resolving disputes in the courts is often a costly and stressful process; it is also very public. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), and mediation in particular, has become one of the most successful and effective ways to achieve amicable and confidential solutions to all kinds of disputes and its use as an effective mechanism in resolving art law and cultural property disputes is being increasingly recognised.

Mediation generally has a high success rate; one recent report indicated that around 75% of cases settle on the day of the mediation, with another 14% settling shortly thereafter, giving an aggregate settlement rate of 89%. Parties are generally highly satisfied with
the mediation process, and its particular suitability to disputes involving art law and cultural heritage issues arguably makes the likelihood of settlement even greater.


By Richard Clark, Slaughter and May 


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Additional Info

  • Number of Pages: 6
  • Topic: Art Law

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Richard Clark

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