Strange, archaic and oddly specific: weird and wonderful laws of England & Wales


This month, we thought we would spread some festive cheer with our favourite silly, old-fashioned, and downright-odd rules enshrined in our laws.


  • The suspicious handling of salmon…

We have s32 of the Salmon Act 1986 to thank for this, which makes it an offence to handle salmon in suspicious circumstances. However, there is no need to fear looking suspicious as you nip back from the shop of an evening with your pack of smoked salmon- it is aimed at stopping the sale of fish through illegal means.

  • Snowy days in London…

This could be quite relevant with the weather we’ve been having. Be careful not to fall foul of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839 by making or using ‘any slide upon ice or snow… to the common danger of the passengers’. The same Act also bans flying a kite or playing a game if it causes ‘annoyance’, and even shaking a rug out of a window before 8am… all very considerate, but not much fun!

  • ‘Fishes Royal’…

Fish again! This rule hails from the time of Edward II and still stands. It means that any whale, dolphin, sturgeon or porpoise that is caught within 3 miles of the shore, or washed up on a beach can be claimed by the King.

  • Queue jumping…

In most circumstances, queue jumping is punishable by way of a hard stare. However, Transport for London have introduced a byelaw which ‘may require any person to queue’ and that person ‘shall join the rear of the queue’.

  • Know your limits!

The Licensing Act 1872 makes it illegal to be drunk in a pub. It’s actually aimed at preventing intoxication in public places, but licenced premises get their own special mention! Breaking this law could land you with a £200 fine. The same Act also prohibits being drunk in charge of a carriage, horse, cow or steam engine.

  • Strange goings-on in Parliament…

Since 1313, MPs have not been able to enter Parliament wearing a suit of armour. Good to know.

  • And finally- one to debunk. It is LEGAL to eat mince pies on Christmas Day…

In 2013, the Law Commission issued answers to their most frequently asked questions about strange laws, and people checking whether they could eat mince pies on Christmas Day was one of them! Rest easy everyone, this was only ever an issue in 1644, when Christmas Day coincided with a day of fasting. Things did get worse however, as Christmas was banned from 1644 until 1660!


With our complex legal system of statute, common law, byelaws and customs we are sure there are lots more like the above. Please let us know if you have any other weird and wonderful laws we need to know about!


Season’s Greetings from everyone at LFBB!

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