May 4, 2022
Matthew Knights highlights five weird English laws that you won’t believe exist!

Don’t Handle Salmon In Suspicious Circumstances

The Salmon Act 1986 is a weird English law that deals primarily with the licensing and regulation of salmon dealing in Scotland and in England and Wales. The weird aspect of the Act comes from Section 32 of the Act, which is headed “Handling Salmon in Suspicious Circumstances”.

This section creates an offence in England and Wales “for any person who receives or disposes of any salmon in circumstances where they believe, or could reasonably believe, that the salmon has been illegally fished.” So in effect, it’s supposed to protect against illegal fishing, but because of how broadly the section is worded, people have also joked that s32 of act also prohibits you from just randomly carrying/toting your fresh salmon by hand on the street.

Fish included in this act are:

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Eels
  • Lampreys
  • Smelt
  • Freshwater Fish

If a person is found guilty of this offence either summarily or on indictment, they are liable for a fine.

Don’t Deface A Bank Of England Banknote.

Under S.3 of the Currency and Banknotes Act 1928, it’s illegal for anyone to deface a Bank of England Banknote. It states:

“If any person prints or stamps, or by any like means impresses, on any banknote any words, letters or figures, he shall, in respect of each offence, be liable on summary conviction to a penalty not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale, namely £200”.


Boost Your Legal Skills

Join our summer school or mock trials to develop your legal skillset futher

Law Summer SchoolsMock Trials

Don’t Be A Nuisance Before 8am

“One shall not beat or shake any carpet, rug, or mat (except doormats before the hour of eight in the morning), or throw or lay any dirt, litter or ashes, or any carrion, fish, offal, or rubbish, or throw or cause any such thing to fall into any sewer, pipe, or drain, or into any well, stream, or watercourse, pond, or reservoir for water,” according to S.60 of the Metropolitan Police Act 1839.

That’s because to do so would amount to a nuisance – but this weird English law only applies within the limits of the metropolitan police district.

Anybody caught doing this is technically liable for a fine not exceeding Level 1 on the Standard Fine Scale (£200). However, the likelihood of a prosecution ever being brought under this Act is almost nil.

You Must Nominate Someone To Stop Alarms In Your Absence

This weird English law is particularly pertinent to the majority of us who now have audible burglar alarms on our premises. Under this Act it is necessary to make certain provisions if your alarm sounds in your absence namely: “One must nominate a key-holder in respect of the premises and notify the local authority in writing before the end of the required period of the name, address and telephone number of the key-holder nominated in respect of the premises”.

It’s found in S.71 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 and anybody breaching this provision is technically liable upon summary conviction, for a fine not exceeding Level 3 on the Standard Fine Scale, namely £1,000.

You Can’t Attend Parliament In Armour Or Military Regalia

Following political turmoil and unrest in the late 13th and early 14th century, a series of ordinances were passed to limit the monarch’s powers. One particularly obscure Act was the Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour 1313.  Written in Norman English and thus appearing somewhat archaic to the modern observer, it stated:

“In all Parliaments, Treatises and other Assemblies, which should be made in the Realm of England forever, that every Man shall come without all Force and Armour.”

This meant that any man who attended Parliament in armour or military regalia, was deemed to have committed an act of treason against King Edward II. Although a prosecution nowadays under this Act seems ludicrous; it has been speculated by legal scholars that if such a situation arose, police would be required to attend.

More Weird Laws

Discover the weirdest laws around the world, and take a look at some strange American laws that still exist.


Loading More Content