Weirdest Laws and Regulations in the UK

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Hadeel Hossam

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29 March, 2021

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4 mins read

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Who would think that something like salmon, laundry, or an innocent costume could get someone arrested or fined? Well, that might actually happen in the UK! Every country has its fair share of strange, amusing laws that are probably outdated and never got removed. If you’re about to study in the UK, you should know some of these weird UK laws that you wouldn’t expect to be in place, just in case you are ever in one of these situations, unlikely as it seems!

1. No Fishy Behaviour

If you happen to go on a fishing trip and catch yourself a nice big salmon, be careful not to handle it suspiciously. That’s right; there is a weird British law called the Salmon Act, established in 1986 and titled ‘Handling Salmon in Suspicious Circumstances.’ While suspicious behaviour isn’t clarified in this law, a police officer can stop you on the road and investigate why you’re carrying around a salmon. It even extends to any freshwater fish like trout, eels, lampreys, and smelt!

2. Fancy Dress Rules

Is it Halloween, and you’re going to a fancy dress party? Well, you might get arrested if you dress up as a member of the police, military or marine forces. While impersonating armed forces is an understandable serious offence, there’s not even room for tolerating it as a Halloween costume under the Seamen’s and Soldiers’ False Characters Act 1906 and the Police Act 1996. Don’t worry, though. You can still dress as a paramedic and not get arrested.

3. No Cows in the Daylight!

You’re walking your cow in broad daylight? How dare you, sir! Yes, another strange UK law states that you are not allowed to walk your cow in the street between 10 am and 7 pm under the Metropolitan Streets Act, Section 7. Apparently, no one wants to see you strolling with your cow, so just do the decent thing and keep your walks to the night when no on*e can see you.

4. Those Aren’t Your Whales!

It’s a beautiful sunny day on the beach, and you suddenly find a whale lying on the beach, don’t even think about taking it for yourself. That’s right, that’s a royal whale according to a 14th-century statute called the “Prerogative Regis” or “the King’s Prerogative”. The law states that all whales and sturgeons found on the coast are the property of the Crown and should be offered to them. So next time you find a whale, call the royal guards to come and pick it up.

5. Drop That Plank

The strange thing about this law is that it even exists in the first place! The Metropolitan Police Act states that you can’t walk around on the pavement carrying a wooden plank. The law also extends to ladders or any other long heavy objects. We can understand this since it would be very hazardous, but shouldn’t this just be common sense!?

6. Don’t Shake Your Rug!

You are not allowed to shake or beat your rug in the street….after 8 AM. Yes, another law under the Metropolitan Police Act strikes again. It’s almost like this weird UK law has no regard for cleaning day! Now you have to set your alarm so you can shake your rug in the street without hearing any sirens. 

7. Don’t Ring That Doorbell

We’ve all done it as kids; ringing on someone’s doorbell or knocking then running away. It was harmless fun for us but definitely annoying for the adults, so much so that the UK decided to make an entire law dedicated to stopping that behaviour. The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 states that it’s an offence to “willfully and wantonly disturb any inhabitant by pulling or ringing any doorbell or knocking at any door without lawful excuse”. This weird UK law seems to have something against child’s play because it even extends to prohibiting flying kites in public spaces as well as sledding on ice. Someone had a really mischievous child around them to come up with this law! 

8. Hide Your Laundry

Your dry-cleaner’s out of service? Don’t even think about hanging your laundry outside for it to dry, or you’ll be spending the night in jail. You heard us, it is literally against UK law to hang a washing line in the street. Again, just no regard for laundry day!

9. Polish Potatoes Ban

Don’t you dare even think about smuggling potatoes into the UK! We have our own potatoes, and we’re very proud of it!! As weird as some UK laws go, this is one of the weirdest we’ve seen. There’s a whole act stating that bringing potatoes into the UK, especially from Poland, is against the law. Guess Polish potatoes are just not as tasty?!

10. No Lingering At Funerals

Once a funeral you’re attending is over, you better pack up and leave right away! Lingering after a funeral is illegal, so watch out for that fine! They say, in 2015, a man was fined £160 for staying an extra 20 minutes after his late wife's service had finished!

These weird UK laws present a nice amusement for newcomers like yourself; however, always remember that the UK actually has one of the world’s strongest constitutions. Their laws aim to protect and serve their people’s best interest and help visitors.

 If you think these laws are weird, you should take a look at Weirdest Laws and Regulations in Canada and 9 Weird State Laws You Never Knew About


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