Strange UK Laws

14th August 2014

There have been many laws passed in the UK which some might consider peculiar. Here are 10 which are still present in legislation today!

  1. A Statute forbidding Bearing of Armour (1313) 

    This is oldest law on this list and states that MPs are not legally allowed to wear armour in the houses of parliament. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/aep/Edw2/7/0/introduction)

  1. Licensing Act 1872 

    This law appears on a lot of “strange law” lists and while it may be hard to believe, it is true that it is illegal to be found to be drunk in any public place, including licenced buildings (pubs). (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/35-36/94)

  1. Licensing Act 1872 

    It is also illegal to be in charge of a carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine whilst drunk, although perhaps that’s for the best.( http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/35-36/94)

  1. The Polish Potatoes (Notification) Order 2004 

    In 2004 it became illegal to import Polish potatoes into England and Wales. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/1452/made)

  1. Salmon Act 1986 

    Did you know that handling salmon in “suspicious circumstances” can get you into trouble? (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1986/62/section/32)

  1. Town Police Clauses Act 1847 

    It is illegal to “roll or carry any cask, tub, hoop, or wheel, or any ladder, plank, pole, showboard, or placard, upon any footway, except for the purpose of loading or unloading any cart or carriage, or of crossing the footway”. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/10-11/89)

  1. Town Police Clauses Act 1847 

    It is also illegal to beat or shake any carpet, rug, or mat in the street (except for door mats before 8am). (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/10-11/89)

  1. Town Police Clauses Act 1847 

    Anyone who flies a kite or uses a sledge in an urban area to the annoyance of others is also breaking the law. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/10-11/89)

  1. Transport For London Railway Byelaws

    Jumping the queue in a Tube station ticket hall is not only rude, it’s also illegal – by law you must join the back of the queue if directed by an authorised person or a sign (i.e. “queue here”). (http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/Legal_Oddities.pdf)
  2. Currency and Banknotes Act 1928 

    If you’ve ever had a bank note which someone has written on then you could have evidence of a crime in your hands. It is illegal to write or stamp any words, letters or numbers on money. (http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Geo5/18-19/13/section/12)

The Law Commission has a great page which has details on strange UK laws past, present and mythical: http://lawcommission.justice.gov.uk/docs/Legal_Oddities.pdf.

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