The Costs and Legal Implications Facing Implementation of the European Union’s Droit de Suite Directive in the United Kingdom

Pfeffer, Jennifer B. | January 1, 2004

In 2001, the European Union passed a directive requiring member countries to implement a droit de suite on the resale of art. A droit de suite is a resale royalty created to benefit visual artists. The purpose of the droit de suite is to allow artists to profit off of their growing reputations; for example, a starving artist who has sold a work for a pittance may profit (or his heirs may profit) when he has risen in prominence and his work has consequently increased in value. The United Kingdom actively opposed the directive;8 it worried about the effect of the directive on its lucrative art market9 and questioned the usefulness of the droit de suite itself. Nevertheless, the directive was passed and the United Kingdom must implement the directive within the next eight to ten years. This comment will examine the problems the United Kingdom will face when it passes the droit de suite legislation mandated by the European Union’s directive.