Following the announcement this week that a General Election is to be called on the 8th June 2017, we take a look at some of the more odd laws that our dear governments have provided over the years and yes, they are still in force today!
Into the Pub
Where else can we start than in the old favourite, the Pub! The Licensing Act of 1872 sought to bring some order and decorum to the traditional tavern when it declared that “It is Illegal to be drunk in a public house.” The legislation also states that: “Every person found drunk … on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty”.
Of course we are all aware of the more modern equivalent “Drunk and Disorderly” but this is usually reserved for those in the streets who need to be details for their own safety (or the safety of others). So this weekend if you’re planning to get drunk then our advice to ensure you don’t land yourself in bother with the local constabulary … stay at home … it’s also much cheaper! (Some free money saving advice thrown in there too for good measure!)
A Fisherman’s Tale
Perhaps it’s just in my local pub that I hear many a tall tale from the fishermen of the size of their catch and how proud they are to have taken something home for their supper, however, before you all rush off to catch your evening meal, remember that “all beached whales and sturgeons must be offered to the Reigning Monarch”! A law which came into force 1322, making it some 695 years old and still as good today as it was then!
Don’t believe me? Well the law was actually tested as recently as 2004, when a fisherman named Robert Davies caught a 9lb sturgeon off the coast of Wales. Mr Davies duly offered to her majesty The Queen only to receive notice that she was happy for him to “dispose of the fish as he saw fit”. Mr Davies must have thought his luck was in, however it was short lived because shortly afterwards, Mr Davies became the subject to a short criminal investigation on the basis that sturgeon are a protected species and it is an offence to deliberately catch or kill them. (A law unrelated to that made in 1322) However, if you think this is just an old fisherman’s tales, then take a trip to the Natural History Museum in London, where “Stanley the Sturgeon” can be seen in all his glory! (Although I’m guessing that 13 years out of the water can’t have been good for him.)
For the gentry among us please bear in mind that while the sun shines this weekend, it is still illegal to order or permit any servant to stand on the sill of any window to clean or paint it. So, please if your servants are to do some castle maintenance this week, I suggest splashing out (see what I did there) on a sturdy ladder and some PPE (Health & Safety in the workplace remember). Of course, also remember that we are more than happy to represent you when a claim is brought against you for allowing your servant or butler to balance on a window sill!
Other eminently sensible legislation that remains on the statute books includes the 1313 law stating it is illegal to wear a Suit of Armour in Parliament. Given today’s politicians, this is still not a bad idea. Moreover, part of the Sergeant At Arms duties includes enforcing this law within the houses!
Going on holiday this summer? Well we have advice for that too! When you’re nipping into the sea for a quick dip and a snorkel, please bear in mind that Under the terms of the Protection of Wrecks Order 2003: You are not permitted to enter the hull of the Titanic without permission from the Secretary of State; and given that they might be a bit busier this June I suggest you get your application in now!
Ok, I hear you – you’re not going to the beach this year, you’re staying in the countryside … well I can help you out there too. Picture the scene … you’re strolling along at the side of a beautiful meandering river when suddenly up the falls, leaps a majestic salmon and you think back to the start of this tale and wonder what it would be like to eat the salmon for your supper? Well always remember that in 1986 a poaching law was introduced which states that it is illegal “to handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances”. Our advice … makes sure you handle your salmon in a meaningful manner!
Also please remember that when you’re out in the countryside always keep your dogs and children under control … this is especially true if you’ve been in the pub for a while and managed to get drunk without being penalised, and your children are in fact cows .. Because yes … you guessed it – it’s an offence to be drunk and in charge of cattle in England and Wales.
And finally … one for our recently inaugurated president of the good old United States …
It is illegal under the terms of the Prohibition and Inspections Act of 1998 to cause a nuclear explosion. So here’s hoping the world will go one a bit longer and we can get back to worrying about having a pint, moving our cattle around and catching big fish!
(This article was originally written for Rebian Solicitors in April 2017 – It is recreated here as a example of my work only.)