How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

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Linda Heenan
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How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Feb 14, 2010 8:44 am

I've had a request from a Dao practitioner in the UK. He said his school allows him to bring his own sword to training or buy one from them but the sword that caught his eye was one for sale on my website. I have it in Australia. He does not know, and neither do I, if there is a way around the sword laws in the UK for him to be able to buy the sword from me. I think it would be seized by Customs and never arrive.

Does anyone from the UK understand this well enough to give advice?
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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by jonpalombi » Sun Feb 14, 2010 10:46 am

Hi Linda,

Happy Chinese New Year of the Tiger!!! I know it's OK to import antique swords into the UK but sharpened, modern reproductions... are what started this whole mess in the first place. Graham Cave would be the one to ask, since he's living in the center of that cyclone. Give Graham a PM or an email. OK?

Arrivederci, Jon
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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Graham Cave » Sun Feb 14, 2010 11:18 am

Hi Jon, LInda, here's a brief summary as far as I can understand it........

It is not possible to give definite advice on this matter. UK offensive weapons law is vague and open to interpretation. In effect, this means that Customs Officials are the only people who are able to answer the question fully because they are the ones who make the decisions.

The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons)(Amendment) Order 2008 states:
4. It shall be a defence for a person charged—

(a) with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or

(b) with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979,

in respect of any conduct of his relating to a weapon to which section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 applies by virtue of paragraph 1(r) to show that his conduct was for the purpose only of making the weapon available for the purposes of the organisation and holding of a permitted activity for which public liability insurance is held in relation to liabilities to third parties arising from or in connection with the organisation and holding of such an activity.
The likely interpretation is, that if you belong to a martial arts group and are covered under their public liability insurance, then you probably have a legitimate defence under which to import a curved sword....but you will at least need need documentary proof.


The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons) (Amendment No. 2) Order 2008 states:
3. It shall be a defence for a person charged—

(a) with an offence under section 141(1) of the Criminal Justice Act 1988; or

(b) with an offence under section 50(2) or (3) of the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979(4),

in respect of any conduct of his relating to a weapon to which section 141 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 applies by virtue of paragraph 1(r) to show that the weapon in question was made before 1954 or was made at any other time according to traditional methods of making swords by hand.
The likely interpretation is, that if a sword was made using traditional methods by hand, then you will have a defence. Of course, what constitutes 'traditional methods of making swords by hand' is wide open to interpretation. To prove this is so, you will at least need documentation from the vendor/manufacturer. Even then, Customs may choose not to believe this if they feel that the documentation is inaccurate or misleading. If this happens, it is possible that they will require further proof (as in the case of antique swords) and will want independent verification from an expert who has viewed the sword in in the country where it was purchased from. It is worth pointing out that Customs Officials are not experts in the field of Chinese swords, so if they believe that a sword is being imported illegally, they will rely on documentary evidence supplied by others on which to base their decisions.


Please note, I am not giving legal advice in this post. The burden of legality lies solely on the importer and it is therefore up to them, to fully understand and comply with the Law.

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Linda Heenan » Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:10 pm

Thanks for all that. Such a shame that laws affecting the cultural heritage of a nation have been left to the interpretation of minor officials in the Customs Department. Unfortunately, the lower a person's level of authourity, the bigger noise he is likely to make, so I won't be selling swords to the UK - not until someone richer and more influential has set the precedent in my favour.
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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Nik » Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:28 am

So, as I am about to have the same problem, would blunt sabers and swords declared as sport training tools would be no problem, or do they face the same regulations as sharp ones ?

And regarding the hand made thing, would using a mechanical air pressure driven hammer while forging free out of the hand with no cast qualify as handmade or not ?

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Graham Cave » Mon Feb 15, 2010 8:27 am

Nik wrote:So, as I am about to have the same problem, would blunt sabers and swords declared as sport training tools would be no problem, or do they face the same regulations as sharp ones ?
I don't remember seeing any mention of sharpness in the Offensive Weapons orders, so I would assume that blunt swords will be treated the same as sharp ones for the purposes of regulation.
And regarding the hand made thing, would using a mechanical air pressure driven hammer while forging free out of the hand with no cast qualify as handmade or not ?
Well, your guess is as good as mine. It is an interesting academic debate that could be argued both ways. In this case I would interpret it as being handmade, because it requires the full skill of the craftsman to produce the blade. The only difference is that the power is being supplied mechanically.

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Nik » Mon Feb 15, 2010 3:31 pm

But wouldn't that mean that selling any Taijiquan swords is outlawed in GB, as long as it's no museum replica ?

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Graham Cave » Tue Feb 16, 2010 10:19 am

I can find no mention of straight swords in the above amendments, only swords with curved blades:
“The Criminal Justice Act 1988 (Offensive Weapons)(Amendment) Order 2008

(r) a sword with a curved blade of 50 centimetres or over in length; and for the purposes of this sub-paragraph, the length of the blade shall be the straight line distance from the top of the handle to the tip of the blade.”

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Nik » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:23 am

Looks like they meant to ban cheap Katanas only, to prevent criminals and idiots from using them ?

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Fei Li » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:48 am

This article might be of interest:
http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Nl1/Newsroom/DG_066629

Citation:
"We recognise it is the cheap, easily available samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine, more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial art enthusiasts. As such as we are putting forward exemptions for these groups."

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Graham Cave » Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:50 am

Fei Li wrote:Citation:
"We recognise it is the cheap, easily available samurai swords which are being used in crime and not the genuine, more expensive samurai swords which are of interest to collectors and martial art enthusiasts. As such as we are putting forward exemptions for these groups."
The first Amendment 2008 actually banned all curved swords [including British ones] and only gave exceptions for Japanese swords. The Home office then tried to redress this mistake by bringing out Amendment 2 2008 which gives exemption for any traditionally made sword. This is why the legislation is covered in two amendments rather than one.

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by alex_champ » Tue Feb 23, 2010 9:06 am

Linda Heenan wrote:I've had a request from a Dao practitioner in the UK. He said his school allows him to bring his own sword to training or buy one from them but the sword that caught his eye was one for sale on my website. I have it in Australia. He does not know, and neither do I, if there is a way around the sword laws in the UK for him to be able to buy the sword from me. I think it would be seized by Customs and never arrive.

Does anyone from the UK understand this well enough to give advice?
I doubt that's allowed.

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by jackhookss » Mon Jun 14, 2010 11:57 am

It is really strange and shocking that in order to sell the sword in UK, they made such a way of without cancelling the amendment, they had design the new one that cancels the first one. It is great thinking.
Rules are made to be broken

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Fei Li » Mon Sep 27, 2010 7:33 am

Sorry to dig out this thread again…
I read through it again, but I am not sure to have understood it :oops:

I understood, that antiques are exempt of the ban.

But:
Can I have a cutting jian in the UK?
I am not talking about training with it in the Park, just having one at home.
Is it ok, to have them, if one is part of a martial arts club?

I will be moving soon to the UK and I do not want to loose my collection at customs,
or even leave them in my home country.

Sorry to bother everyone again
and my apologies should I have overread the answer earlier…

Fei Li

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Re: How to sell a sword to someone in the UK

Post by Graham Cave » Mon Sep 27, 2010 8:20 am

All antiques are exempt but you will probably have to prove they are antiques. This should be done by having them verified by an expert before you import them into the UK.

Jian should be fine to import, even if they are new. Only curved swords were banned under the last amendments. You can purchase and keep jian at home if you are not a member of a martial arts group.

Dao are a different matter, the law is less straightforward. If you want to keep dao, then it would be advisable to join a martial arts group. That should give you an automatic exemption and save you a lot of hassle.

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