UK law has been shaped by centuries of tradition and evolution. While some of these laws may seem irrelevant today, they’re still important to know to prevent people from getting into trouble for breaking them without realising they are illegal.
As researched by EM Law, here are some of the essential unknown UK laws to be aware of:
1. Whales and sturgeons are royal property
If you accidentally found a beached whale or a sturgeon on the shore, you wouldn’t be able to claim it as your own. In the 14th century, King Edward II decreed that the head and spermaceti of a whale as they are part of royal prerogative. As for the rest of the whale, it would be shared among finders.
2. Being drunk in charge of cattle
According to the Licensing Act of 1872, it is an offence to be intoxicated while in charge of any carriage or cattle. The law states that it is an offence to be drunk while in charge on any highway or other public place of “any carriage, horse, cattle, or steam engine.”
This means that not only could you get a fine for being intoxicated on a horse or in a carriage, but also for being drunk while operating a steam engine. The consequences would cause a fine, and in more serious cases, jail time.
3. Impersonating armed forces
In the UK, it is illegal to impersonate a member of the armed forces. This includes wearing a uniform that isn’t your own or using rank titles you are not entitled to use.
The Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906 and Police Act 1996 make it a criminal offence to misrepresent oneself as a member of the armed forces.
The UK government wants to protect the reputation of the armed forces and prevent people from taking advantage of the public. This law also helps to ensure that only those who have served in the armed forces can benefit from the privileges that come with being a member.
4. Drunk in a pub
The Licensing Act of 1872 states that it is an offence to be “drunk on licensed premises”. This means that you can be fined or even jailed for being drunk in a pub.
This means that if you are visibly intoxicated, the staff of the establishment have the right to ask you to leave. The law was put in place to prevent violence and disorderly behaviour from taking place in pubs.
5. Taxi drivers can refuse to take you if they think you have a plague
In the UK, it is legal for taxi drivers to refuse to take a fare if they believe the passenger has a contagious disease. The Public Health Act 1936 gives taxi drivers the right to ask a fare if they have “reason to believe” that the passenger has a contagious disease.
Smallpox, cholera, and the plague are some diseases that would fall under this law. This law is still in place today to help prevent the spread of disease.
6. Hanging out laundry on the street
The Town Police Clauses Act 1847 makes it a criminal offence to “obstruct any highway or public place” with laundry. This means that you could be fined up to £1,000 for hanging your laundry out to dry on the street.
The UK has a lot of laws that protect the public and keep the peace. Some of these laws may seem strange, but they are essential for ensuring the safety of everyone in the UK. When planning on visiting the UK, people need to be aware of these laws before they travel.
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