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Quirky UK laws: Suspicious salmon handling and drunk in charge of cattle

September 22, 2016

Statue of Lady Justice in front of the Romer in Frankfurt - Germany
www.depositphotos.com/© Hackman

We’ve mentioned in past posts some of the quirky regulations in place around the globe, but the UK itself is also home to some rather strange laws that foreign contractors working here should be aware of. In fact, some are so unusual, even UK citizens themselves might not have heard of them! Here are just a few examples:

  • Polish potato ban: In order to combat rot, it has been a requirement since 2004 to have written notification for Polish potato imports.
  • The Crown owns whales and sturgeons: According to medieval statute, any such creatures found stranded in the UK belong to the Crown, a rule allegedly instigated to reflect the desire of King Edward II to control consumption.
  • The Metropolitan Police Act 1839: In a law that many pedestrians trying to navigate busy pavements will appreciate, this act prohibits people from carrying any casks, tubs, hoops, wheels, planks, ladders or poles on a path unless loading or unloading a carriage.
  • The 1986 Salmon Act: This law makes it illegal to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances in an attempt to clamp down on poaching. However how these ‘suspicious circumstances’ are defined is unclear.
  • Drunken behaviour: The Licencing Act of 1872 features several interesting laws. In an attempt to clampdown on alcoholic antics, the act states that “every person found drunk … on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty”. It also prohibits being drunk in charge of cattle.
  • Carpet beating: In a law passed in the 19th Century, carpet beating in London streets is banned after 8am.
  • MP armour: As a means of preventing nobles from using force when parliament was called, MPs were banned from wearing armour in parliament in 1313. However, not everyone immediately complied, with the Earl of Lancaster attending while armed with weapons until at least 1319.

While The Law Commission does regularly review these outdated laws and recommends the removal of irrelevant regulations, such elimination of local tax legislation is less likely, if not non-existent! As such, it’s vital to ensure you are compliant with local laws where ever in the world you are.

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