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Law School Research Seminar - Annika Dorn, The University of Bonn Berlin

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Title: 'The Restitution of Nazi-looted Art in the United Kingdom: A closer look at the approach taken by the Spoliation Advisory Panel’

Abstract: The Research Project “Restatement of Restitution Rules for Nazi-Confiscated Art” aims to provide a comprehensive, comparative analysis of international practice in the restitution of Nazi-looted art, focusing on those countries, which have established restitution commissions as alternative mechanisms for resolving ownership disputes. Embedded in this project the PhD will have a closer look at the United Kingdom’s Spoliation Advisory Panel and its work guided by its paramount purpose to achieve a fair and just solution for the parties involved. The Panel does this by assessing both legal issues relating to title to the cultural object and moral considerations such as the moral strength of the claimant’s case. By analysing the Panel’s recommendations these legal and moral considerations and their underlying normative structure can be made visible and distilled into an abstract set of principles. Such a body of principles can help to establish a more coherent decision-making-process in the future preventing unwarranted inconsistencies of outcomes in similar cases. Furthermore, those rules are open to comparison with the approach taken by other European restitution commissions in Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, and France. Which leads to another question: Do the different legal traditions in Common Law and Civil Law countries impact the commissions practices? And if so: What are the benefits of Common Law judging in the context of Nazi-looted art?

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