Dispute resolution

The Court of Arbitration for Art: One year anniversary

Published on 7th Jun 2019

June 8 2019 marks the one year anniversary of the official launch of the Court of Arbitration for Art (CAfA); time for an update. CAfA is a specialized arbitration and mediation body dedicated exclusively to resolving art related disputes. CAfA was created to address the disadvantages of resolving art related disputes through litigation, such as expertise, impartiality, and market legitimacy.


CAfA is a collaboration between the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI) and the Authentication in Art foundation. The most recent version of the CAfA Arbitration Rules entered into force on January 1 2019 and CAfA began accepting cases on April 1 2019.

Features of CAfA arbitration

The CAfA Arbitration Rules are based on the NAI Arbitration Rules, which have been supplemented and modified to better accommodate art related disputes. Many rules, such as those regarding confidentiality, summary proceedings, costs and time-limits, are (almost completely) identical.

The main differences reflect the clear focus on increasing the quality of decision making and market acceptability. Distinguishing features of CAfA arbitration include:

Technical expertise

The arbitrators are in principle appointed from among a pool of arbitrators compiled jointly by the CAfA Board and the NAI based upon their backgrounds and experience in handling art related disputes.

Neutral experts

The tribunal appoints experts on forensic science and provenance. Such experts are responsible only to the court, not to an individual party, with the aim of preventing the typical “battle of the experts”. In time, CAfA aims to create a pool of experts from which experts will be selected.

Expert assistants

The tribunal may appoint one or more experts to give written advice.  In addition, in complex and/or highly technical cases the tribunal may appoint a technical process advisor to advise the arbitral tribunal with respect to pre-hearing evidence gathering and evidence exchange processes.

Place of arbitration

Contrary to the NAI Arbitration Rules, parties cannot determine the place of CAfA arbitration. The place of CAfA arbitration is The Hague, The Netherlands.

Three arbitrators

A CAfA arbitration tribunal consists of three arbitrators, unless the value of the claim is lower than EUR 1,500,000.


CAfA is currently filling its pool of arbitrators and mediators, vetting over 100 applicants from Europe, the US and Asia. As of writing, the first case is yet to be heard by a CAfA arbitration tribunal.

If you would like to learn more about CAfA and how it can benefit your business, feel free to contact our litigation team in The Netherlands.

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* This article is current as of the date of its publication and does not necessarily reflect the present state of the law or relevant regulation.

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