Thursday, 23 January 2014

Cultural Heritage Lawyer on ACCG Mistake and the Responsibilities of Importers

Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire has a post on his blog today reminding us of the judicial verdict on the coineys' claims about "First found"* in a 2012 coiney case ('The U.S.- Bulgaria Bilateral Agreement and Ancient Coins: Some Thoughts', 23 Jan 2014). Basically the conclusion is the same, the claims of US dugup coin collectors (dealers) that the "first found principle" somehow negates import restrictions is utterly false and based on (what it seems to me is in fact) the same misinterpretation of the law as the one I discussed a few days ago - though seen from a different standpoint.

 I think every ancient coin collector in the US should read St Hilaire's text and reflect. They should reflect on the value of ACCG leadership- where are they taking the hobby? They should also reflect on two facts, the second part of St Hilaire's text considers the responsibilities of the importer as defined by the CCPIA. As nicely summarised by St Hilaire:
CBP need not demonstrate that the articles are restricted; rather, the statute “expressly places the burden on importers to prove that they are importable. [...] More details about the legal responsibilities borne by cultural property importers can be found here.
Coin collectors might like to reflect on the fact that even if he wanted, St Hilaire could not have given a link to any resource prepared by the ACCG for an objective and accurate presentation of the legislation regarding import of ancient coins from countries with and without MOUs with the United States of America. The ACCG dealers expect collectors to back them up in their own fight against the current legislation, without actually properly informing them what it is.

* They are claiming (falsely, and collectors are uncritically accepting) that the US government acts unlawfully putting coins on a Designated List appended to a cultural property MOU because, they argue, the CCPIA only protects archaeological and ethnographic objects first found in the territory of the petitioning state. I have discussed this a number of times, showing the fallacy (most recently here), it is good to see a US lawyer who knows what he's talking about join the debate.


Cultural Property Observer said...

There's several problems with St. Hilaire's blogs in general and this one in particular. First, St. Hilaire relies on selective quotation without linking the documents in question. Second, he does not allow comments so no one can correct his errors. With regard to the Court's opinion, these statements were made in the context of a very limited review of the applicable regulations. The Court also took pains to emphasize that the ACCG would be able to contest that its coins were covered by import restrictions in a forfeiture action. We'll see if that goes, but we would argue if we are not allowed to contest the first discovery issue in that action, that action is a sham which falls below what ACCG is entitled to as a matter of due process.

Paul Barford said...

I thought there was a link there, but if not, you are perfectly free to give it and comment here.

Cultural Property Observer said...

Opinion and further reflections here:

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