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UK Supreme Court quashes antiques trade’s final bid to kill off the UK Ivory Act!

LONDON:  The landmark UK Ivory Act has passed its final hurdle with the announcement today (17 August) that the Supreme Court has refused to allow an appeal against a Court of Appeal decision in May.

The Act was introduced after the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) revealed, in its ground-breaking research in 2017, that the UK was the world’s leading exporter of antique ivory, particularly to China and Hong Kong – two illegal trade hotspots for poached ivory.

Despite being passed in 2018 with overwhelming popular support and cross-party Parliamentary backing, the Act has been challenged at every opportunity by a small group of traders operating as Friends of Antique Cultural Treasures (FACT) – at a judicial review in the High Court in November 2019, again at an appeal this February against the High Court’s decision in favour of the Act and most recently at the Court of Appeal decision in May upholding the Act’s validity and legality.

Mary Rice, EIA Executive Director, said: “We are delighted to learn that the Supreme Court has rejected a further application to appeal against the UK Government’s ivory ban, considered one of the strictest of all bans globally.

“This marks the end – finally – of a long and challenging legal drama and means that we can now celebrate the decision to close the UK’s ivory markets and congratulate the UK for its perseverance and tenacity in upholding the ban.

“The next challenge to help give the world’s precious elephants a future is to close the EU’s ivory markets.”

EIA has been in the vanguard of a campaign to adopt ivory trade restrictions in the UK, arguing that any legal trade in ivory provides cover for the illegal trade because it is difficult to distinguish between antique and newly carved ivory.



  • Paul Newman, EIA Press & Communications Officer, via press[at]
  • Alice Railton, EPI Head of Operations, via arailton[at]



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses. Our undercover investigations expose transnational wildlife crime, with a focus on elephants, pangolins and tigers, and forest crimes such as illegal logging and deforestation for cash crops such as palm oil; we work to safeguard global marine ecosystems by tackling plastic pollution, exposing illegal fishing and seeking an end to all whaling; and we address the threat of global warming by campaigning to curtail powerful refrigerant greenhouse gases and exposing related criminal trade.
  2. The EPI is a coalition of 20 African countries with common policies on elephant conservation.
  3. Ten leading NGOs worked together to support the British Government to ensure the passing of the UK Ivory Act. The members of the coalition are: Born Free Foundation, David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation, Environmental Investigation Agency, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defence Council, Space for Giants, Stop Ivory, Tusk, Wildlife Conservation Society and Zoological Society of London