Obscure Laws that Still Exist in the UK

Obscure laws in the UK

With a total of 66 monarchs and 57 parliaments having ruled and governed the UK throughout the centuries, the United Kingdom has seen its fair share of laws both entering and leaving legislation through the years.

While it would be plausible to assume that as society has evolved, so has the logic of the nation’s laws, this is not necessarily the case. While some of the more outdated and seemingly bizarre rules have been dissolved, there still remain some obscure and admittedly slightly crazy laws which as – odd as they may be – are technically still legally viable. So, have a read of some of these weird and whacky laws and dazzle your friends with your legislative knowledge.

Dressing up as a Soldier for Fancy Dress

That’s right, according to the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act of 1906, it is actually illegal to dress up as a member of the armed forces as, according to legislative law, this would be false imitation and impersonation of the armed services. We guess it may be time to put away those naval officer outfits and Dunkirk-inspired costumes.

Holding a Salmon Suspiciously

If you’re a fishmonger or a fishermen, it may be worth paying attention to this one, as according to Section 32 of the Salmon Act of 1986, it is illegal to hold a salmon in suspicious circumstances. We’re not sure exactly what counts as ‘suspicious’ salmon handling but it sounds fishy to us.

Playing Football in the Street

Not exactly the most sporting of laws, following the The Metropolitan Police Act of 1839, it became illegal to both fly a kite and play football on the street, as these activities may ‘annoy’ neighbours and locals.

Giving Beached Whales to the Queen

According to UK law, both whales and sturgeon are royal fish and, due to this, are the rightful property of the reigning monarch. As a result, when either of these types of fish are beached, they must be offered to the king or queen before anything further can be done with them.

Importing Polish Potatoes

Thanks to the aptly named, but bizarre Polish Potatoes Order of 2004, it is actually illegal to import or bring over any potatoes from Poland.  We’re not sure exactly why this law was put into place but it seems po-tally crazy to us.

Wearing Armour in Parliament

Originally implemented in 1313 under the Statuto sup’ Arportam’to Armor or the Statute forbidding Bearing of Armour, it became illegal for members of Parliament to wear armour to a parliamentary session. Although parliament may well be a battlefield in its own right, with the ban of armour, members of parliaments must remain solely reliant on their words to shield them in parliament.

Handling Cattle While Drunk

According to the Licensing Act 1872, it is illegal to be drunk and in charge of cattle. Though we’re not sure why cows specifically have been singled out amongst the animal kingdom, we might hold off throwing any farmyard parties for the time being or risk facing judicial review.

Defacing Money

If you’ve ever found yourself doodling on a spare £10 note in your back pocket, you may actually have unwittingly been committing a criminal offence. Under the Currency and Bank Notes Act of 1928 it is illegal and a punishable offence within the UK to deface or stamp any bank notes.

Hanging Up Washing

The law may be clear cut, but this one doesn’t wash with us. If you happen to live in Beverley, East Yorkshire you are subject to legislation that prevents you from airing and drying your washing outside. We’re definitely not hung up on this law.

Carrying a Plank

Those applying for work visas to do construction work may need to pay attention to this one as apparently it is actually illegal to carry a plank of wood along a pavement within the UK. According to Section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act, planks and other similar materials can legally not be carried down a street as this would be a ‘nuisance’ to members of the public; we’re not planking around.

Jumping the Queue in the Tube Ticket Hall

It’s long been said that Brits know how to queue, but as it turns out this may be born out of necessity rather than an inherent patient personality. Thanks to the London Transport byelaws, it’s actually been made illegal to jump a queue for London transport tickets, and offenders can see themselves being fined up to £1000. When it comes to London transport it really does pay to be patient.

If this article has inspired you to come and experience some of the fun and uniqueness of Britain for yourself, why not contact one of our friendly team and apply for a UK visa today. We’re always ready to help and assist both you and your family in any way we can in welcoming you to the United Kingdom.

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