Monday, June 15, 2020

UPDATE: Fine Art Transport Services and Couriers in the UK in 2020

I've spent some time today updating the UK Art Movers & Couriers & Fine Art Transport Services on my Art Business Info for Artists website (Ship Art section).

As part of my review of matters relating to the Recession, I wanted to check the current status of current providers of transport services for fine art.
Changes made include:
  • CHECKING on current information provided and revising as required. (I've not quite finished)
  • ADDING IN new providers - some new sole traders and private limited companies offering to pack/move art around the UK
  • ADDING CAUTION NOTES - in relation to their current trading status and/or compliance with UK ecommerce regulations
I'm also looking for some help in keeping this page updated throughout the year - in order to avoid artists getting caught out by a business in the process of going under.  (please see the end).

Basic data checks and compliance checks re. regulations

I now check each service against a set of criteria - and a number of the services have noticed and have started to address their shortcomings!

All art movers and couriers are being assessed over time against
The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 require traders to give you certain information. The Regulations came into force on 13 June 2014 and apply to contracts entered into on or after that date.
  • a template of information requirements (see below) 
The information requirements below for distance selling of services are BASIC i.e.
  • Trading status eg company/VAY number if registered as a private limited company and/rr for VAT
  • Name of Principal contact:
  • Website URL:
  • Social Media sites (if any)
  • Description of services offered:
  • Typical Prices quoted:
  • ​Insurance:
  • Address:
  • Office:
  • Mobile:
  • Fax:
  • Email:
BUT not every service listed provides all the details - although some have changed and improved their websites since I started ding these explicit checks

[NOTE: As well as my website - and its ecommerce page - you might find the Business Companion Guides helpful to understanding what all distance traders selling services online are obliged to do - see Consumer contracts: distance sales The rules when you form contracts at a distance, including information requirements and cancellation rights ]

Matters of Concern & Cautionary Notes

I've also noticed
  • Some of those claiming to be "companies" are now having second thoughts (!)
  • Some of those which are companies are or have been in financial trouble. 
  • Some who had very basic info on their websites have improved - and some have not - while quite a few services continue to do everything by telephone (which is still a distance sale - and the regulations still apply to all documentation / information that needs to be provided)
Right now I'm NOT proposing to delete any traders unless it's very clear they're not operating any more. However I will be indicating any matters of concern - in red!

I'm very keen that 
  • those art transport businesses which are coping should get a profile 
AND at the same time I want to
  • protect artists from those transport services who may be trading when they shouldn't.
I'm also now adding in notes:
  • those which are companies are identified as such - I include links to their online page at Companies House which means you can check if their last set of accounts indicate they are 'fit for business'.  Bottom line - you're looking to see if their Net Current Assets are in the Black - or whether they are in the red - usually represented as (Net Current Liabilities) i.e. figures in brackets
  • those which are NOT up to date with submission of all relevant company documentation get highlighted. I do NOT recommend you do business with any company which has not submitted a set of accounts in the last year.  It's a very good indicator of a company which is not managed well and may be about to hit the buffers.

Pandemic provisions

Within the current pandemic context, a lot of companies will be in serious financial difficulties - and some will become insolvent.

The Government recognised this would happen and consequently amended the insolvency law so as to give companies some breathing space to try and find a way out of the problem.  

Strictly speaking companies which know they are insolvent (i.e. liabilities exceed assets) should not trade. If they do they can be prosecuted for wrongful trading. 

However because of the lockdown the Government has suspended wrongful trading provisions (i.e. s 214 and s 246ZB of the Insolvency Act 1986) retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months (i.e. covering March, April and May).  I'm not quite sure what happens next - as it's obvious some more leeway might need to be given.

SEE Government to amend insolvency law to keep businesses trading | The Gazette - this also identifies very helpful information for artists re:
  • What are the warning signs a supplier, customer or client is struggling with debt problems?
  • How can I check the financial status of a company before working with them?

Pandemic Policies

It's very clear that some firms have thought through very carefully what they need to make collection and delivery of art safe for all concerned.

I recommend that you ONLY deal with those art transport firms which have a robust Covid-17 Handling Policy.

Can you help?

I'm expecting more services may find the upcoming recession makes life difficult so I'd appreciate it if people would let me know if a service
  • continues to do really well
  • is now cutting corners and/or falling short on the standards you should be able to expect i.e. causing concern
  • has gone under 
I'll update the schedules accordingly. I'm very keen that those businesses which are coping should get a profile - while at the same time wanting to protect artists from those who may be trading when they shouldn't.

You can contact me via the form at the bottom of the page - see

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