High Court in London Denies Iranian Ownership Claim


A frustratingly sketchy Reuters article indicates that Iran has lost in its attempt to reclaim a carved limestone relief, like this one, from the ancient city of Persepolis. Unfortunately, its an example of shoddy legal reporting. It only gives us the result. It provides none of the legal arguments. An earlier story from The Telegraph gives a good background. The dispute was between Denyse Berend, who purchased the relief in New York in 1974, and Iran. It seems Iran was arguing that the relief was removed sometime after the city was first excavated in 1932 by Ernst Herzfeld. If I had to guess, I would say the High Court ruled in favor of Berend because too much time has passed since she bought the object. More than likely, Iran has let the Statute of Limitations run. Frequently, the issue of whether a claimant has brought a timely action is outcome determinative. When I can get my hands on the opinion, I’ll write more. It could be a significant decision, as it might give us a better idea of the law in England and Wales regarding foreign patrimony laws.

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

2 thoughts on “High Court in London Denies Iranian Ownership Claim”

  1. I look forward to seeing the details of the arguments made by both sides in this case. The reports from the Iranian side are no less sketchy and equally frustrating in their vagueness. I have collected them at:
    http://persepolistablets.blogspot.com/2007/01/persepolis-in-news.html

    At the same blog you’ll find a chronicle of news stories relating to the still pending lawsuit over the Perespolis Fortification Archive, on loan from Iran to the University of Chicago since the beginning of WWII and now claimed by the victims of a terrorist action:
    http://persepolistablets.blogspot.com/2007/01/persepolis-tablets-in-news.html

    -Chuck Jones-

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