Another Iranian Loss in the High Court in London

Iran has lost a legal dispute involving 5,000 year-old antiquities. Here’s a story from the Daily Mail and also The Independent. Gray J. ruled against Iran because it could not establish Iranian title to the artifacts. It seems the antiquities were exposed after flooding in 2001. There may be an appeal, but it’s unclear why exactly Iran was unable to establish its ownership claim. Was the national patrimony declaration unclear? Or, could the antiquities have come from any number of nations? As Gray J. said, “but the enactments relied on by Iran fall short in my judgment of establishing its legal ownership of the antiquities.” Another frustrating example of poor legal reporting. That’s the result, but we have no idea why the court reached that decision. In any event, this is an important and interesting ruling. I’ll write more when I can track down a copy of the opinion. Sometimes the opinions take a couple of weeks to hit the internet.

It seems that 2 large antiquities shipments have been seized by Customs officials in the UK and returned to Iran. I was not aware of those seizures. This decision is a blow to source nations, and a bit of a surprising one. Courts in the US, even in the civil context usually enforce these declarations. I will be very interested to read the opinion in this case.

Questions or Comments? Email me at derek.fincham@gmail.com

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