Art Law: Reform of Limitation Rules – It’s Deja Vue All Over Again

Baseball legend Yogi Berra is credited with having coined the phrase “It’s déjà vu all over again”. And nothing describes more accurately how I feel about the limitation reform debate triggered by the Gurlitt case.

In 2001, the Upper Chamber (Bundesrat) passed a resolution not to block the entire reform of the law of obligations (Schuldrechtsreform) only because the Upper Chamber was dissatisfied with the decision to leave the 30-year limitation period on property claims in place. However, the Upper Chamber stated very clearly that the legal effects on looted art were unacceptable (Der Bundesrat ist jedoch der Auffassung, dass diese allgemein für alle beweglichen Sachen geltenden Veijährungsregelungen zu unangemessenen Ergebnissen führen können, soweit in der NS-Zeit verfolgungsbedingt entzogene und kriegsbedingt verlagerte Kulturgüter davon betroffen sind.)

The Upper Chamber then recorded its expectation that the Federal Government was to revisit the issue as soon as possible and come up with a proposal (Der Bundesrat erwartet, dass die Bundesregierung zu der Frage, ob und in welcher Weise die Verjährung von Herausgabeansprüchen in Bezug auf NS-verfolgungs­bedingt entzogenes und kriegsbedingt verlagertes Kulturgut einer Sonderregelung bedarf, baldmöglichst Stellung nimmt und ggf. einen entsprechenden Gesetzentwurf vorlegt.)

If only they had followed up and insisted on the implementation of exemptions to the general rule.




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