Professor Janet Ulph

Professor of Commercial Law

School/Department: Law, School of



I graduated from Nottingham University with a Law degree and went on to qualify as a solicitor. I obtained Fellowships to study for master’s degrees in Law at Cambridge University (Wolfson College) and Harvard Law School in the USA. My research focus is upon moveable property particularly cultural property. I acted as Academic Director for Leicester Law School between 2011-2014. I put forward proposals for law reform relating to museum collections to the Law Commission and the Government and these proposals form part of the Law Commission’s 13th Programme of Law Reform 2017 (Law Com No 377) 2.27 - 2.29.


My book Commercial Fraud: Civil Liability Human Rights and Money Laundering (2006) was supported by an AHRC award and was cited with approval by the Court of Appeal in R v Glatt [2006] EWCA Crim 605 and three judgments at first instance. My article “Retaining Proprietary Rights at Common Law through Mixtures and Changes” was cited by the Supreme Court of Canada in B.M.P. Global Distribution Inc. v Bank of Nova Scotia 2009 SCC 15 (CanLII). I am the main author of The Illicit Trade In Cultural Property: Money Laundering Criminal and Civil Liability and Recovery (2012). It was supported by a Leverhulme Fellowship. I received an AHRC/ESRC Placement Fellowship in 2012 to work with the Museums Association on guidance for museums in relation to sales and transfers of collection items. In 2014 I obtained an AHRC Leadership Fellowship on the legal and ethical aspects of museum collections. I produced guidance for museums on curatorially motivated disposals considering in particular the situation where legal title was uncertain. In 2016 I was a member of a team led by the Arts Council and the Museums Association which produced guidance relating to closure of museums. 


  • Article 10 of the 1970 UNESCO Convention: National Measures Related to Non-State Actors, Janet Ulph in AF Vrdoljak, A Jakubowski and A Chechi (eds) Oxford Commentary on the 1970 UNESCO and 1995 UNIDROIT Conventions (OUP, 2024) 
  • Reviewing Due Diligence Measures in the Art Market chapter 26 in V. Mitsilegas, S. Hufnagel and A. Moiseienko (eds) Research Handbook in Transnational Crime (Edward Elgar, 2019)  
  • Acquiring Fossils: A Complex Picture (2018) 10 (10) The Geological Curator 517 - 521. 
  • Frozen in Time: Orphans and Uncollected Objects in Museum Collections (2017) 24 International Journal of Cultural Property, 1-28. 
  • Dealing with UK Museum Collections: Law, Ethics and the Public/Private Divide (2015) Issue 2-3, International Journal of Cultural Property, pp 177-204. 
  • The Sale of Items in Museum Collections in N. Hopkins (ed), Modern Studies in Property Law, Volume 7 Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2013). 
  • The Illicit Trade in Art and Antiquities: International Recovery and Criminal and Civil Liability (Oxford: Hart Publishing, 2012).
  • Markets and Responsibilities: Forgeries and the Sale of Goods Act 1979, (2011) Journal of Business Law 261 - 281.
  • Confiscation orders, human rights, and penal measures (2010) Law Quarterly Review 126: 251-279. 
  • Commercial Fraud: Civil Liability, Human Rights, and Money Laundering (Oxford University Press, 2006)
  • Retaining Proprietary Rights at Common Law through Mixtures and Changes (2001) 4 Lloyds Maritime and Commercial Law Quarterly 449-456.


Museum collections art and cultural heritage


Art law

Press and media

I am an expert in relation to the illicit trade in cultural property and dealings with museum collections


I am a peer reviewer and I have sat on awards panels for the AHRC and ESRC. I am the co-convenor of the Art Culture and Heritage stream at the SLSA annual conference. External examiner at York University Law School


Over the last 15 years, I have been awarded: (i) a Leverhulme Fellowship to study the illicit trade in cultural property, (ii) an AHRC/ESRC Placement Fellowship to work with the Museums Association and the Arts Council on the legal and ethical aspects of disposals from collections, and (iii) an AHRC Fellowship to provide guidance on the legal and ethical status of museum collections.   


Numerous academic conferences. For example, “The Nicosia Convention on Offences relating to Cultural Property 2017.” Joint presentation with Dr. S. Vigneron at the SLSA conference at Cardiff University in 2021. “Reflections on Law Reform:” panel discussion at the Impact and Law Reform conference, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies in 2019.  

I have been a member of an expert panel at various workshops held for the benefit of museums and organised by various public bodies including the UK Registrars Group, the Collections Trust, and the Museums Association.  


LL.M. (Harvard) LL.M. (Cantab) Solicitor
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