Please Sir, can I have some Moore?

An Appeal Court decision is currently pending about the ownership of millions of pounds worth of art treasures by sculptor Henry Moore. The judgment will have wide ranging implications for artists over ownership of their work.

The works at the centre of the dispute are housed at the artist's former home in Hertfordshire and Moore's daughter Mary is waging an ownership battle over them.

Moore died in 1986 at the age of 88. But his daughter, who has sued in her married name of Mary Spencer Danowski, is fighting to gain control of some 600 pieces produced by her father from 1977 until his death.

The priceless collection of sculptures and other works are housed at Hoglands, Perry Green, near Ware, in Hertfordshire, and the final decision over their ownership is one of significance not just to Ms Moore but also to the art world.

Ms Moore, 48, has challenged the High Court's 1993 rejection of her claims to her father's work.

She argued through Lord Irvine QC, that her father's personal copies of his work were his personal property and that on his death they became part of his estate.

However, in 1976, in a move aimed at safe-guarding against tax liabilities, Moore set up a charity called the Henry Moore Foundation with a trading arm called HMF Enterprises.

The foundation, contesting Ms Moore's right to ownership, says that Moore surrendered his right to the works by doing this and everything he produced became the property of HMF Enterprises.

Lord Irvine told the appeal judges during the case, on which judgment has now been reserved, that the matter was of major importance to the art world because it involved the question of how much artistic freedom could be breached by what he called "contractual fetters".

He said the case involved a major dispute over one of the UK's greatest 20th century artists and the body set up to protect his artistic legacy.