British law is one of the most long standing legal guidelines in the world. They have been procured since 1267. Our country’s leaders have named numerous laws from monarchs to parliaments, with twenty-nine acts of parliament being passed in 2020 alone. It is hard for the everyday person to have knowledge of every single UK law. Thankfully, if you are aware of the serious ones, then you will be just fine. Some of these offenses are so bizarre, there is less chance of you committing them than facing legal proceedings.
We are going to debunk some common law myths and even let you know some of the most elaborate laws that are still enforceable in the country. If you have any questions and wish to make your own legal inquiry, then Alexander JLO is happy to help. Our team of Liverpool-based family and divorce law experts can aid you in your legal proceedings.
Here are some of the weirdest laws that have ever existed.
1. It is illegal to be within 300 metres of a British monarch without wearing socks
You may wonder the likelihood of this event ever actually occurring, and you would be right to. If you are attending a meeting with the Queen, you will most likely be dressed to impress, socks and all. Strict clothing laws were actually put into place by famous monarchs such as Henry VIII and Elizabeth I. The majority of these outrageous laws were repealed by James I as they were deemed less important than other legal matters.
Queen Elizabeth issued such laws around clothing to regulate excessive spending on elaborate outfits for court. Anybody deemed too lavish was issued a warning and given twelve days to tone down their dress. You can legally meet the queen in whatever clothes you wish in today’s society. But, she would probably prefer it if you put some socks on for the occasion.
2. If someone knocks on your door and asks to use your toilet, you must let them
This law we can certainly flush down the toilet. Likely to have arisen from general neighbourliness, the law that states that you must grant anyone that needs it, access to your facilities, is false. It has even been voted one of the UK’s most ridiculous laws, and there is no question why. While you are perfectly permitted to ask to use somebody’s household toilet, they cannot be prosecuted for not allowing you to.
3. It is illegal to die in Parliament
One of the most peculiar laws instated, dying in the Houses of Parliament is considered by some as breaking the law. Not only is this completely false, but the justice system would have a hard time sentencing somebody who has sadly passed. The suggestion of this law relates to the fact that anyone who dies in parliament or in a palace is entitled to a state funeral. State funerals cost the government a lot of money, so this is perhaps why they would forbid your life to end if you can help it. This is, of course, not true, and if you were to meet an untimely end in the House of Commons, you would not have committed a criminal offense.
4. It is illegal to leave baggage unattended
It is easy to see why this law would be put in place. In large public environments such as airports and shopping centres, any unattended items require reporting to security or police to ensure they are not suspicious. It is, however, not against the law to leave your belongings alone. This is good for anybody who has a bad habit of losing their items, as you cannot be prosecuted for it. The government advises you not to leave your bags unattended if it can be avoided to prevent them from being tampered with or stolen. If you intentionally leave any belongings behind and stolen, you may not be able to take legal action.
Now we have unveiled the truth behind these suspected laws, several unusual rules are still in place today that you may not be aware of. It is unlikely that these situations will ever occur, but if they do, you will know whether you are liable or not.
5. It is illegal to sound your car horn in an aggressive manner
One or two of us may be guilty of this offense at some point in our driving. Unfortunately, it is actually against the law to sound your horn without just cause or out of anger. Car horns alert other drivers to potential dangers and make them aware of your vehicle to avoid accidents. Just because the driver in front of you has missed the green light or forgotten to indicate does not warrant a blast of your car horn. The Highway Code outlines that it is also illegal to sound your horn in built-up areas between 11:30 pm and 7:00 am.
6. It is illegal to destroy or deface money
This is a well-known law in many countries but is not often committed. As soon as you deface or burn a coin or banknote, it loses its value and can no longer be in circulation. Banks and shops will not accept any money considered damaged or marked with ink. If you have received a defaced banknote, then it is not legal tender, and you can return it to where you received it from in exchange for money. Under the Currency and Banknotes Act of 1928, you can be subject to a fine not exceeding one pound if you damage or deface money.
7. Carrying A Plank Along A Pavement
This law is mainly enforced in busy cities, particularly in and around London. It is technically considered a ‘street nuisance’ offense to carry a plank down a busy street. It is somewhat dangerous to do if there are a lot of pedestrians around, and they may find it irritating to try and avoid someone carrying a plank. According to the Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, this is still an enforceable offense, along with other public nuisance crimes.
8. Handling Salmon Suspiciously
Illegal fishing is a severe crime in the UK. To fish in UK rivers waterways, you require a rod license. Anyone caught illegally fishing is committing an environmental crime. According to the Environment Agency, a reported one-hundred and twenty-eight prosecutions were made in May 2014. One offender was fined over £800. The suspicious salmon law devolves from these strict fishing rules. It more literally means that if you look like you are carrying an illegal item, then you can be fined. The Environment Agency frequently patrol known fishing areas ensuring that people are not in breach of the law.
9. Finder’s Theft
We have all heard of the saying ‘finders keepers’, but this is not technically legal in the eyes of the law. It is a complicated law to enforce. If you were to find an unidentifiable belonging or money in the street, this would not be a crime if you were to pick it up. However, if you pick up a wallet that has money in it, along with identification to whom the wallet belongs, this would be deemed theft. Don’t worry too much though, picking a penny up for good luck is unlikely to get you prosecuted.
10. Being Drunk & Disorderly In A Pub
It seems silly, right? Getting intoxicated is the place that is selling you the alcohol to do so does not seem like a criminal offense. But, unfortunately, being drunk, even on licensed premises, can subject you to a penalty. It is also illegal to sell alcohol to anyone who appears intoxicated. This is difficult to enforce unless there are police inside every pub. However, it is something to consider next time you are a bit tipsy at your local.