Professor Norman Palmer QC Hon CBE FSA

Professor Norman Palmer is a barrister practising at 3 Stone Buildings, Lincoln’s Inn, London. He specializes in the fields of cultural objects, personal property, commercial law and dispute resolution, including the mediation of disputes over cultural objects. His clients include governments, local authorities, cultural institutions, religious bodies, indigenous communities, museum curators, art collectors, art dealers, transporters and insurers.


Norman Palmer has appeared or advised as counsel in numerous cases involving cultural objects and high-value chattels in general, including Andre and Andre v Clydesdale Bank (2012, ongoing); United States of America v A 10th Century Cambodian Sandstone Statue (2012, ongoing); Spencer v S Franses Ltd [2011] EWHC 1269 (QB); Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran v Barakat Galleries Ltd [2009] QB 22, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre v Trustees of the Natural History Museum [2007] (legal proceedings at home and abroad followed by mediation); Schoyen v UCL (2007); Bakwin v Erie Trading Ltd [2005] 22nd November (High Court, Master Rose); Marcq v Christie Manson & Woods Ltd [2004] QB 286, CA; Wincanton Ltd v P & O Trans European Ltd [2001] EWCA Civ 227, CA; Mayflower Foods Ltd v Barnard Bros Ltd and Others (1996) 9thAugust (High Court at Manchester); Euro Commercial Leasing Ltd v Cartwright and Lewis [1995] 2 BCLC 618 (High Court); Re Stapylton Fletcher Ltd [1995] 1 All ER 192 (High Court). He has participated in some major cases that were resolved by alternative dispute resolution, notably Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre v Natural History Museum (2006 to 2007) and Beaverbrook Foundation v Beaverbrook Art Gallery (2006 to 2009). He has also acted as an expert witness in various cases, one example being Beaverbrook Foundation v Beaverbrook Art Gallery (arbitration, 2006 to 2009).


Norman Palmer has written and edited or co-edited some of the principal practitioner works within his field, such as Taking it Personally: The Individual Liability of Museum Curators (2011), Palmer on Bailment (3rded 2009), Cultural Heritage Statutes (2nd ed, 2005), Museums and the Holocaust (2000), Interests in Goods (2nd ed, 1998), The Recovery of Stolen Art (1998) and Art Loans (1997). In 1996 he founded the quarterly periodical Art Antiquity and Law (published by the Institute of Art and Law) which he continues to edit with Ruth Redmond-Cooper.

Official positions

Official appointments held by Norman Palmer include standing counsel to the National Gallery of Australia (from 2001), principal academic adviser to the Institute of Art and Law (from 1995) and expert adviser to the Spoliation Advisory Panel (from 2000). Over the past decade he has chaired the Treasure Valuation Committee (2001 to 2011), the Illicit Trade Advisory Panel (2000 to 2005) and the Ministerial Working Group on Human Remains in Museum Collections (2001 to 2003). As Chair of the Treasure Valuation Committee he presided over the valuations of the Staffordshire Hoard (2009) and the Frome Hoard (2010). He was President of the Foundation for International Cultural Diplomacy (2006 to 2011). He is a Visiting Professor of Law at King’s College London (from 2007), the Professor Emeritus of the Law of Art and Cultural Property at University College London (from 2002; formerly the Professor of Commercial Law at UCL from 1991 to 2002) and an Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Tasmania (from 2008).

Awards and distinctions

Norman Palmer holds degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Geneva (docteur honoris causa) and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. In 2006 he was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to art and to law. In 2009 he was appointed Honorary Queen’s Counsel (QC) in recognition of his contribution to cultural law and policy and to scholarship and practice in the field of personal property law.