Provide for an offence of acquiring, disposing of, importing or exporting
tainted cultural objects, or agreeing or arranging to do so; and for connected
Be it enacted by the Queen’s most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and
consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present
Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:—
1 Offence of dealing in tainted cultural objects
(1) A person is guilty of an offence if, knowing or believing that a cultural object is
tainted, he dishonestly deals in it.
(2) It is immaterial whether he knows or believes that the object is a cultural object.
(3) A person guilty of the offence is liable—
(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding
seven years or a fine (or both),
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six
months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum (or both).
2 Meaning of “tainted cultural object”
(1) “Cultural object” means an object of historical, architectural or archaeological
(2) A cultural object is tainted if, after the commencement of this Act—
(a) a person removes the object in a case falling within subsection (4) or he
excavates the object, and
(b) in the circumstances in which the object is removed or excavated an
offence is committed by him.
(3) It is immaterial whether—
(a) the removal or excavation was done in the United Kingdom or
(b) the offence is committed under the law of a part of the United Kingdom
or under the law of any other country or territory.
(4) An object is removed in a case falling within this subsection if—
(a) it is removed from a building or structure of historical, architectural or
archaeological interest where the object has at any time formed part of
the building or structure, or
(b) it is removed from a monument of such interest.
(5) “Monument” means—
(a) any work, cave or excavation,
(b) any site comprising the remains of any building or structure or of any
work, cave or excavation,
(c) any site comprising, or comprising the remains of, any vehicle, vessel,
aircraft or other movable structure, or part of any such thing.
(6) “Remains” includes any trace or sign of the previous existence of the thing in
(7) It is immaterial whether—
(a) a building, structure or work is above or below the surface of the land,
(b) a site is above or below water.
(8) This section has effect for the purposes of section 1.
3 Meaning of “deals in”
(1) A person deals in an object if (and only if) he—
(a) acquires, disposes of, imports or exports it,
(b) agrees with another to do an act mentioned in paragraph (a), or
(c) makes arrangements under which another person does such an act or
under which another person agrees with a third person to do such an
(2) “Acquires” means buys, hires, borrows or accepts.
(3) “Disposes of” means sells, lets on hire, lends or gives.
(4) In relation to agreeing or arranging to do an act, it is immaterial whether the
act is agreed or arranged to take place in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.
(5) This section has effect for the purposes of section 1.
4 Customs and Excise prosecutions
(1) Proceedings for an offence relating to the dealing in a tainted cultural object
may be instituted by order of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise if it
appears to them that the offence has involved the importation or exportation
of such an object.
(2) An offence relates to the dealing in a tainted cultural object if it is—
(a) an offence under section 1, or
(b) an offence of inciting the commission of, or attempting or conspiring to
commit, such an offence.
(3) Proceedings for an offence which are instituted under subsection (1) are to be
commenced in the name of an officer, but may be continued by another officer.
(4) Where the Commissioners of Customs and Excise investigate, or propose to
investigate, any matter with a view to determining—
(a) whether there are grounds for believing that a person has committed an
offence which relates to the dealing in a tainted cultural object and
which involves the importation or exportation of such an object, or
(b) whether a person should be prosecuted for such an offence,
the matter is to be treated as an assigned matter within the meaning of the
Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 (c. 2).
(5) Nothing in this section affects any powers of any person (including any officer)
apart from this section.
(6) “Officer” means a person commissioned by the Commissioners of Customs
and Excise under section 6(3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.
5 Offences by bodies corporate
(1) If an offence under section 1 committed by a body corporate is proved—
(a) to have been committed with the consent or connivance of an officer, or
(b) to be attributable to any neglect on his part,
he (as well as the body corporate) is guilty of the offence and liable to be
proceeded against and punished accordingly.
(2) “Officer”, in relation to a body corporate, means—
(a) a director, manager, secretary or other similar officer of the body,
(b) a person purporting to act in any such capacity.
(3) If the affairs of a body corporate are managed by its members, subsection (1)
applies in relation to the acts and defaults of a member in connection with his
functions of management as if he were a director of the body.
6 Short title, commencement and extent
(1) This Act may be cited as the Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003.
(2) This Act comes into force at the end of the period of two months beginning
with the day on which it is passed.
(3) This Act does not extend to Scotland.