On 6 June 2018, the first Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA) was officially launched at The Hague. This specialist court arose as a response to the art market’s critique that traditional judges and juries lack the expertise required to determine esoteric issues such as authenticity. Though located at The Hague, proceedings may take place anywhere in the world.

A significant feature of the CAfA rules is that proceedings only utilise tribunal-appointed experts when determining questions of origin and matters of forensic science. This ensures the independence of these experts and also negates the need for each party to call their own experts which forms part of the tribunal’s cost-saving appeal.

This international specialist judicial body is better able to meet the challenges arising from the international nature of the art market. Specifically, the CAfA bypasses the complexity of cross-border conflicting laws, jurisdictional challenges, and the spectre of concurrent litigation in multiple States.

In addition, parties to art disputes, whether private dealers, museums or galleries, usually share the desire to avoid adverse publicity. This concern to protect professional reputations within the close-knit art world underpins the attractiveness of the CAfA’s confidential proceedings.