Strange English Laws

Old England had the strangest of laws. Charles Dickens called the law an idiot and an ass.

Although old England had so many strange laws in times past. Those laws made complete sense as at then, but in recent times the commission have been repelling some of them.

In 1965, the Law Commission was commissioned and was charged with the mandate of repealing ancient English laws and also updating them. The law commission is responsible for reviewing ancient laws and recommending appropriate changes to be made.

It is not an easy job wading through dusty statute books that are ancient searching for old English laws that are strange and adding them to the Repeal Bill, they do this because they have no jurisdiction crossing these laws out. It is only the parliament that has this power after deliberating on them for some time.

One example of England weird laws;
In 1307,a law was passed, that stated that the whales that are dead and seen on the British coast automatically becomes the king’s property. Also, the tail of the whale is to be given to Queen to make her corset. Looking at history, in the year 1307, on 7th July that same year, Edward I died and as his dying wish, Edward I asked his son to take his bones along, when going to conquer Robert the Bruce of Scotland.

Placing a stamp that bears British monarch in a wrong way, is an act of treason and it is punishable by death.

On the 25th of December, It was also illegal to eat mince-pie and this was applied in all of England.

Another English law states, not disclosing information to the taxman is illegal, but disclosing information you don’t mind telling him, is not. This was the law under the UK’s Tax Avoidance Schemes Regulations 2006.

In the 1800, many criminals were sentenced to death on the bases of different crimes committed, such as; impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner, picking pockets, forgery, murder,sheep-stealing, treason, stealing money, horse-stealing,damaging properties and so much more, there are about two hundred in total.

Archery Law
It is mandatory for males who are English and above the age of fourteen to take longbow lessons every weekend for two hours. a church official supervises. As at that time, since no armies existed, only trained infantry, knights, archers and others that existed. Trotters Bottom in Hertfordshire was one of the oldest archery range that still exists till date. Archery ranges were usually located on the extreme end of the field.

Shooting of a Welsh person on Sunday in Hereford was prohibited except with a Longbow, murdering a Welsh person at all hours of the day, so far he is within the city walls.

It is illegal in York, to kill a Scotsman carrying a bow and arrow within the city of York, but this law is not applicable on a Sunday.

English Laws that are Weird
Seeing a mannequin that is naked is illegal for all ten year old boys.

Hanging a bed from a window is illegal.

Leaving and picking up luggage that was abandoned is also illegal.

It is allowed for all English males to urinate behind the wheel of his vehicle but he must place his right hand on it.

In the late 16th Century, a law was introduced to outlaw “molly houses” where homosexuals committed immoral acts. This law banned two or more males from having sexual activities in a house.

English females eating chocolate in public is illegal.

It is a crime to commit suicide in England. Although this law was repealed.
It is considered an offence to be drunk in an inn, this is because the premise is licensed.

It was illegal not to carry bags of oats and bales of hay, when using Carriages in London. The reason for this is that in ancient times horses drawn. In 1976, This law was repealed. Even till this day, all public transport drivers must ask their passengers their smallpox status and it is illegal to carry corpse or sick dogs in your cab without asking for permission from your passengers. At that time it was illegal to impersonate or dress like a Chelsea Pensioner in order to get unmerited pensions. There were brave men who risked their lives for their country and less brave men who were cowardly laying claims to another’s pension. Impostors were sentenced to death when caught.

In 1682, King Charles II Founded The Men in Scarlet. It is a sanctuary for veterans to get relief and treatment from war injuries. It can still be seen, if you are visiting Westminster.

Christmas was considered illegal at 1647, by the English parliament. A Puritan leader banned all festivities relating to Christmas, but after the Puritans left the governing authority in 1660, Christmas was made legal. Then, anyone who celebrated Christmas was arrested.

Keeping a pigsty is allowed for all Londoners, especially in front of their house.
In 1797, John Hetherington who hated London, publicly carried his Top Hat he created. As a result he pulled a large crowd of people but unfortunately for him many women fainted as a result of the noise and a little boy broke his arm. He was fined fifty pounds for disturbing the king’s peace and coming out of his house wearing a shining lustre that was tall, it was seen by the court as a way of frightening people. He was charged and fined.

Shaking a carpet in the street of the Metropolitan Police District was illegal, but this action becomes legal before 8am and nothing later.

Dyeing was illegal in the Houses of Parliament Wearing a full suit of armor by a member of parliament is illegal when worn to the House of Commons.

Trading on Sundays.
Only carrots were allowed to be sold on a Sunday. This law made it relatively illegal to sell anything else. Those business owners that wished to sell their wares sold carrots for huge sums of money, but gifted their wares in return.

Buying and selling of the bible on Sunday was illegal, but Buying and selling dirty magazines was legal on a Sunday.

A Chinese shop can open on Sunday and must sell chips and fish only, but the opening of an English traditional shop that sells fish and chips on Sunday was illegal.

Domestic Violence
It is a popular saying that you should not beat your spouse with anything wider than your thumb, this is derived from an ancient law (rule of thumb).
I have searched hard for the original document that contain wife beating and the rule of thumb. My search proved futile but I found a saying that a carpenter measures with his thumb as a ruler, substituting it for a measuring stick. I apologise for straying of topic but debunking the ancient English law (the rule of thumb), was my aim.

Giving breadcrumbs to a pregnant woman is a must for a baker. Also refusing a woman that is pregnant the right to use a toilet is illegal for a pharmacist.

A woman with an unborn child has the right to urinate anywhere she wants to. In the whole of England this law is enforced.

The Concept Of Laws & Civilization

Without laws, civilization cannot exist.  Humans need laws and rulers to prevent the breakdown of civil actions.  Societies that live in some form of civility have always had governments and rulers in different forms.  Kings, Queens, Bishops, Priests, Dictators and even Pharaohs.

In most cases, these leaders or rulers can be seen as human beings just like the citizens they are overseeing.  In rare cases, such as the Ancient Egyptians, their Pharaohs were seen as gods and yet managed to exist for well over 4,000 years.

In most societies and nations, the structure rests on rule of law vs rule of individuals.  Laws are the guideposts by which Presidents and Prime Ministers are allowed to support and rule their nations.  The English historian and churchman, Thomas Fuller, articulated his philosophy in respect to the rule of law as: “Be you ever so high, the law is above you”.

Law is considered predominant because the written word is incorporated into law books and agreed upon by the ruling party of the nation.  Laws are created to bring an equality to the citizens.  This is true among nations that believe whether king or queen, prime minister or president, all people are equal in some form.  Unfortunately dictatorships usually create laws in order  to rule people but not their leaders.

Civilized people believe that laws are created in order to benefit the whole, while criminals choose to go against the written law in order to benefit their own desires.

If misused, laws can actually turn on a society, as a whole, imprisoning the very people they were meant to protect.  In some orders, laws can be so suffocating that even happiness and joy are either restricted or totally prevented.  Quite simply, if a citizen chooses to break the law, they will be punished for their actions.  The long arm of the law will remove these people from society for a given period of time.  Throughout history, people have suffered at the discretion of rulers simply for having an opposing belief or opinion on a given subject.

The greatest example:  Jesus was not crucified for claiming he was the son of God.  The High Priests of Rome did not truly believe in a singular God, only in themselves.  Instead, they felt he was a direct threat to their control over the citizens within the region.

How well laws are enforced and by whom, can dictate whether these laws are beneficial or destructive.  In reality, laws are not objects, remote of any human qualities or purposes.  Laws are, after all, written by people.  Staying within the boundaries, usually lies within a person’s understanding of these given laws.  Breaking this down, most people abide by the laws believing they are in place to protect most people and are considered friends to the majority.  Citizens within well developed nations find their laws a needed and a useful part of society; they believe without them there would be total chaos.

In general, people believe that if you abide by laws, your life and society will prosper and be a much happier environment.  Others regard laws as their enemy because they prevent these people from their own aspirations and beliefs.  Here is an excellent example of contradiction of law:

Known for his 1516 book “Utopia”, Thomas More was a very important counselor to King Henry VIII of England.  More refused to accept the king as head of the Church of England.  He was tried for treason and beheaded in 1535.  The irony, 400 years later, in 1935, he was canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church.

In some countries, if you are poor, you are not considered the luxury of protection under the law. This is very common in dictatorships, socialism or fascism; due to their low position within society, citizens  are often breaking laws in order to survive.  Many will ignore the “so called” laws by doing as they will, such as stealing, in order to make a living.  At some point they will be arrested and imprisoned as criminals.

In most cases, laws are established as a guide for people to live by helping people understand the difference between right and wrong.  Those who follow the laws will usually be seen as good citizens while those who disagree will be perceived as the enemy.

Although there are probably thousands of laws, on many varying issues, there are common threads and philosophies.  Yes, laws do lean toward the philosophy of the people living within a particular country.  If you study the laws within a given country, you will discover the beliefs and philosophies of its citizens.  If a particular country uses capital punishment for murder, the citizens probably believe in this punishment vs those within a nation that do not believe it’s right.

Another philosophy of law lies in who or what control the laws.  Kings, politicians and the wealthy have an enormous control over the laws.  The biggest difference between a king and his subject is winner – loser, rich or poor.  Many who wield power are given the ability to use these laws for their own personal advantage.  Laws are not above the flaws of human beings; they can either become corrupt or stay above the fray in order to protect all. Understanding written laws will give you the insight into those who created them.  Throughout history there have been rulers who a tyrannical with their citizens, yet are loving caring fathers to their children.  Some would refer to this split in personality as an oxymoron.

If you possess the knowledge and understanding of the laws within your society, you will know how to use them to your advantage.  This could create a huge difference from becoming a master of given laws vs becoming a slave to the same laws.

Role of the Litigation Solicitor

The role of a litigation solicitor can be wide and varied; whilst one day they could be dealing with a probate dispute, the next they could be fighting for the protection of a contract.

However, there are two different types of litigation solicitor; Criminal Litigation and Civil Litigation. ‘Criminal’ relates to matter such as applications for bail whereas ‘Civil’ regards any dispute within a business.

Criminal Litigation – The main difference between the laws of criminal and civil can be found when it comes to ‘burden of proof’. This means, what has to be proven in order for one party or another to be found guilty; in criminal law this is ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ but in civil law it is ‘balance of probabilities’. This ultimately means that criminal cases are somewhat harder to prove as the defendant has to be found guilt beyond reasonable doubt. If this does not happen, the conviction will fail.

Many criminal litigation solicitors often have to make a decision as to what direction they want to go and there are advantages to both; a ‘specialist’ deals with one particular area whereas a ‘general practitioner’ offers services on a much broader spectrum including theft, fraud, etc. On the whole, solicitors generally choose to focus their attentions in more than one area and few actually spread their time between criminal and civil law.

Civil Litigation – This type of solicitor deals with civil matters such as the falling out of two business partners; someone in an organisation may feel as though they are owed a certain amount of compensate and it would be the solicitor’s job to prove them right or wrong. Civil litigation can split off into a number of different sub-sections which is why many choose to hone their talents further and become experts in one particular area such as business partnerships or commercial litigation. There are still some who choose to cover a wider spectrum but these are generally smaller firms with little reputation who need a bigger client base.

Civil litigation doesn’t only deal with problems within the business though, it covers many areas such as employment issues, insurance, commercial, disputes over properties, professional negligence, and more, which is why there is a good opportunity for solicitors to become specially trained in one particular area.

Ultimately, the role of a solicitor is to represent its clients to the best of their ability by keeping their best interests in mind throughout the process. If someone has requested a solicitor, it means that they need help in a legal matter which sees them place a certain level of trust in them to help win the case. This has to be done to a high standard regardless of what area the solicitor specialises in.

Hadaway & Hadaway are Solicitors in the North East of the UK.