header logo

Do you know the world’s weirdest active laws?

14th June 2016

Weirdest active laws

The world of law and regulations is certainly a complicated one and when you take into account the number of dated laws that are still in existence and can still be enforced around the world it complicates things even more.

In our guide we look at some of the world’s wackiest and weirdest laws that even leave those working in legal jobs scratching their heads. Our true and false quiz should come up with some surprises.

It is illegal to carry a plank of wood on a pavement in London

TRUE

Unbelievably an article on the BBC has revealed that in section 54 of the Metropolitan Police Act it states that it is prohibited to carry a plank along a pavement in the capital unless you are in the process of unloading it from a vehicle.

The law even includes tubs, casks, hoops, wheels, ladders, poles and placards. Further, the law bans people from rolling a tub along a London pavement too.

The legislation has been created to stop people from causing a nuisance and to help other users of pavements across the capital.

It is illegal to be drunk in a pub in England

TRUE

Whilst you are actively encouraged to drink alcohol in pubs you daren’t get drunk as section 12 of the Licensing Act 1872 states, “every person found drunk… on any licensed premises, shall be liable to a penalty”.

If that’s not enough of a warning then under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839, it goes further and says it is considered an offence for the keeper of a public house to allow drunkenness or disorderly conduct on the premises. This was added to in 2003 under the Licensing Act, making it an offence to sell alcohol to a person who is drunk or to obtain alcohol for consumption by a person who is drunk.

Bringing Polish potatoes into England

TRUE

Many people head to the likes of Krakow and Warsaw on city breaks, but visitors must remember not to bring back any Polish potatoes.

Under the Polish Potatoes Order 2004 it says, “No person shall, in the course of business, import into England potatoes which he knows to be or has reasonable cause to suspect to be Polish potatoes”.

The legislation was brought in after outbreaks of ring rot were discovered in Poland and in 2012 the Food and Environment Research Agency updated the guideline by demanding anyone who wants to bring Polish potatoes into the country should have a ring rot test certificate.

It is illegal to place a stamp of the Queen upside down on a letter

FALSE

There are many laws within the Treason Felony Act 1848 to ensure the monarch does not get dethroned, but placing a stamp upside down on a letter is not one of them.

In fact the Royal Mail have even said that it is acceptable for people to put a stamp upside down on a letter, so you will keep your head if you accidentally put a stamp upside down on the next bit of post you send.

It is illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour

TRUE

According to the Law Commission there is still a law in place making it illegal to enter the Houses of Parliament wearing a suit of armour.

This law came into force in 1313 under the Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour, which forbade members of parliament from wearing armour in the House.

It is illegal for a woman to wear trousers in Paris

FALSE

While this law is false, it was only revoked in 2013. First enforced in 1799, it was actually illegal for women to wear trousers in public without getting permission from the police. This law was amended in 1892 to allow women to wear sports trousers while riding a horse and then again in 1909 so that women could wear trousers when riding a bicycle.

It is illegal to stand within 100 yards of the reigning monarch without wearing socks

FALSE

Whilst the likes of Henry VIII, Mary I and Elizabeth I all passed laws which regulated clothing styles such as banning anyone appearing at the royal court from wearing ““outrageous double ruffs”, the Law Commission said that these laws were repealed by James I.

It is an offence to push a moose out of a plane in motion in Alaska

TRUE

An article by the Animal Defense Legal Fund highlights some of America’s wackiest animal laws, one of which is a law that prevents moose from being pushed out of a moving plane in Alaska.

While it does not give details as to how a moose would board a plane in the first place, knowledge of this law would be toasted by the antler-adorned mammal.

It is illegal to impersonate a Chelsea Pensioner

FALSE

The Law Commission reveal that the Chelsea and Kilmainham Hospitals Act 1826 banned sham claims to pensions that belonged to Chelsea Pensioners. This was repealed by the Statute Law (Repeals) Act back in 2008.

It is illegal to have a donkey asleep in your bathtub in Arizona

TRUE

Amazingly in 1924 a merchant’s donkey was washed away during a flood because it was asleep in an old bathtub and as a result of this terrible incident a new law was enforced to prevent anything like this from happening again.

The old bathtub was supposed to store drinking water but instead acted as a bed for the sleeping donkey, and unfortunately both were swept away.

It is illegal to chew chewing gum in Singapore

TRUE

Many people working in lawyer jobs in London and the rest of the UK probably wouldn’t know about a law that was created in Singapore making it illegal to chew chewing gum unless it meets certain criteria.

Enforced in 1992, the law actively encourages people to purchase chewing gum with therapeutic value from a doctor on prescription and there is a strict ban on importing chewing gum into Singapore.

It is illegal to be overweight in Japan

TRUE

As reported by the New York Times, a new law was passed by the Japanese government in 2009 which made it illegal for Japanese men and women to have a waist size above a certain figure.

Now men over the age of 40 to have a waist in excess of 80cm (31.5 inches) and women to have a waist size over 90cm (35.4 inches) will face penalties.

Those who find themselves over this figure will undertake counselling and will be monitored via phone and email, whilst businesses who have a number of employees above these figures are fined.

Image Credit: Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, Mike Kniec, aimee rivers, Kevin Dooley, Bryan Ledgard, mahalie stackpole