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Lawyer of the Week - Tim Maxwell

Tim Maxwell, an art law and litigation partner at Boodle Hatfield, acted for the Creative Foundation, in a case involving a mural by graffiti artist Banksy, called Art Buff, which had been cut out of a building and flown to the US for sale. The High Court ruled that the Banksy belonged to the charity and should be returned to Folkestone where it will be put on public display. It is one of the first reported cases concerning ownership of street art.

What were the main challenges in this case and the possible implications?

Aside from the jurisdictional issues, the case was complicated by the lack of recent precedent, as case law does not really cater for the sudden appearance of street art. We had to fall back on earlier authorities, many of which were centuries old, including one involving the disputed ownership of an excavated prehistoric boat. The case will have wider application, as one of the issues was whether a lease incorporated an implied term allowing a tenant to keep parts of the building removed during repairs. 

What was your worst day as a lawyer?

It was the first day of a trial and we had reached a settlement including strict confidentiality provisions the night before. I woke up the next morning and found the case had been splashed across the national press. After some rather tense phone calls it turned out that an enterprising Court reporter had picked up and syndicated the story so the settlement proceeded.

What was your most memorable experience as a lawyer?

Examining paintings with world renowned experts in various locations around Europe including various museum basements in London.

Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?

Aside from my family, including my daughters and wife who keep me firmly grounded, the most influential person would be one of my tutors at school who told me I would end up either in prison or in the church. So far his influence has luckily been limited…

Why did you become a lawyer?

I was told from an early age that I should find a career where I could indulge my fondness for argument.

What would your advice be to anyone wanting a career in law?

To gain a varied and wide experience before committing to a particular field. I had no idea that I would be practising art law when I was studying at university.

If you had not become a lawyer, what would you have chosen and why?

I always wanted to be a pilot until I discovered that my eyesight was less than perfect.

Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Given the advances in laser eye surgery perhaps taking to the skies is still an option for me.

 

This article originally appeared in The Times on 29th October 2015. 

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240 Blackfriars Road
London
SE1 8NW
DX 53 Chancery Lane

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7629 7411
Fax: +44 (0)20 7629 2621
Email: bh@boodlehatfield.com

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