In a recent case, a 49 year old Cardiff man was convicted of illegally trading the skulls of endangered animals without firstly having the correct documentation.

Perhaps surprisingly, trading the items is not against the law, but you can be prosecuted if you fail to hold an exemption certificate.

In exemption certificate is required if a person is looking to either buy or sell any type of specimen from an endangered animal, or one which is under immediate threat of extinction.

Michael Tang pleaded guilty to a total of 24 offences, and was given 12 weeks’ custody, suspended for 12 months. He was also given a Community Order which requires him to undertake 120 hours’ unpaid work, as well as being ordered to pay £1,200.00 of court costs.

What is the law in this area?

The prosecution related to some fairly obscure legislation.

Mr Tang was convicted of purchasing specimens of identified species, which had been unlawfully acquired or imported, contrary to:

  • Council Regulation (EC) No. 338/97;
  • The Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations 2018

He was also convicted of fraudulent evasion of a prohibition/restriction, contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979.

Although Mr Tang may never have heard of the legislation prior to his case, he is no doubt regretting his lack of awareness. There may be a temptation for a person to expect that they can escape prosecution by stating that they simply didn’t know; this isn’t an effective defence and so prevention is always better than cure.

If in doubt, obtain legal advice before you start your business or take a new step. For expert assistance, please contact our Regulatory team: Amber Walker on 0113 284 5042 or Ian Anderson on 0113 284 5062. They can also be contacted at avw@ih.co.uk and ija@ih.co.uk.