A New Forum for Resolving Art Law Disputes

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A New Forum for Resolving Art Law Disputes


Art-related legal disputes have become increasingly common in recent decades.

As the number of cases involving art continues to mount, it has become evident that traditional legal channels may not be well suited for resolving these specific types of controversies. Judges presiding over art law cases have often been open and direct in admitting that they are ill-equipped to serve as the authoritative decision makers for many art-related issues of significance.

In response to the inadequacy of traditional legal channels for resolving these disputes, an alternative means of adjudicating art law issues was recently created. The new alternative is called the Court of Arbitration for Art (“CAfA”).

The CAfA was established by the Authentication In Art Foundation (“AiA”) and will be carried out under the banner of the Netherlands Arbitration Institution. According to AiA, the CAfA will employ panels of vetted art experts to preside over art-related disputes. It will handle matters all over the world and resolve a wide variety of art law disputes.

The CAfA will provide not only arbitration services but also serve as a mediation forum. AiA has stated that the CAfA will begin operating on January 1, 2019. However, it is unclear if it has officially commenced operations at this point as it appears that final rules governing CAfA proceedings have not yet been issued.

Parties may utilize the CAfA to resolve relevant disputes in one of two ways.

  1. Prior to a dispute arising, the parties may choose to include contractual language agreeing that the parties will utilize the CAfA as the ruling body in the event of an art-related dispute.
  2. Alternatively, in the event that parties are seeking to resolve a dispute after some triggering event has already occurred, then parties may mutually agree to utilize the CAfA to resolve the dispute.

It is way too early to determine how often the CAfA will be utilized or what kind of impact it may have in resolving the wide spectrum of art-related disputes that have been litigated by the judicial system or entirely private dealings up to this point.

At the very least, the establishment of the CAfA presents parties with an alternative method for handling how art-related issues are resolved. This alternative option is likely to be both significantly less expensive and more expedient than judicial systems. Additionally, the CAfA replaces judges, individuals with no specific advanced knowledge regarding art-related concerns, with experts in this specialized area of knowledge.

For all of these reasons, it seems like participants in the art world should be optimistic about the establishment of the CAfA.


About the Author

Ford Harmon is our startup + business law guru and resident tech nerd. Ford helps clients navigate a multitude of business-law concerns. The majority of clients Ford assists are entrepreneurs, startups, or more well-established businesses with creative or tech-centric business models, as well as artists of all mediums.

Learn more about Ford Harmon HERE.


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