EU Resale Right Directive is for Artists

In yesterday’s judgment the EU Court of Justice confirmed that the contractual arrangements by Christie’s France which oblige buyers to pay the resale right are in compliance with European law. The court delivered a preliminary ruling to a question forwarded by the French Court of Cassation. The French antiques dealers’ association (SNA) had started a legal procedure against Christie’s France because it considered that a clause in Christie’s sales conditions was in breach of French and EU law and void. Following the French law it is the seller who is liable for the resale right. The clause obliges the buyer to pay an amount equal to the resale right to the auction house in case of a resale right affected sale.

In its motives the Court interprets the Directive’s provision on liability in the light of the main objectives of the Resale Right Directive (EU 84/2001) which are:

  • To ensure that visual artists share in the economic success of their original works

  • Eliminate unequal treatment in the EU depending on where their work is sold

Until the EU Directive came into force European artists did not benefit from the right when their works were resold at the vibrant London art market which is one of the biggest and resilient ones world-wide.   

“We are delighted that the Court recognizes the Directive’s objectives to support the artist’s in their just cause and their need for a clear liability” says Marie-Anne Ferry-Fall, CEO of ADAGP and President of EVA and adds “We do not comment neither on the parties to this particular law suit, nor on arrangements in general between the different art market professionals.”

RULING in Case C‑41/14 dated 26 February 2015:

Article 1(4) of Directive 2001/84/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 27 September 2001 on the resale right for the benefit of the author of an original work of art must be interpreted as not precluding the person by whom the resale royalty is payable, designated as such by national law, whether that is the seller or an art market professional involved in the transaction, from agreeing with any other person, including the buyer, that that other person will definitively bear, in whole or in part, the cost of the royalty, provided that a contractual arrangement of that kind does not affect the obligations and liability which the person by whom the royalty is payable has towards the author.

See also: Press release of CURIA.