Three Bloody Bonkers British Laws That Are Still on the Books


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Great Britain might have heavily influenced the founding fathers of the United States as they created one of the most innovative models of government in history, but that doesn’t mean British law books are devoid of silly, seemingly meaningless legal statutes. Here are just a few of the strangest laws you never would have expected a place like Britain to have.

No Gambling in the Library.

Libraries are meant to be places of learning, and leisure, not gambling dens, which is why Libraries Offences Act of 1898 outlawed any gambling in them. Although this legal statute was more than likely necessary in the late 19th century, it’s fairly preposterous to think that someone would actually try to place a bet in a library.

Only the Queen Is Allowed to Have Whales or Sturgeon Caught in England.

According to a legal statute from 1322 called the King’s Prerogative, any whale or great sturgeon caught in the United Kingdom is the rightful property of the queen. While monarchs in the 14th century were likely far more selfish, it’s fair to argue that the modern queen ruling nearly 700 years later really cares whether one of her subjects has caught one of her royal fish. Maybe she doesn’t even want what the legal statute protects? Then again, maybe she does, and it’s best to put the whale back where it was found.

No Suspicious Salmon Handling.

It seems that the British take their fish very seriously. Not only are sturgeon and whales the property of the queen, as just mentioned, but the Salmon Act of 1986 forbids anyone in the United Kingdom from handling a salmon in suspicious circumstances, which is a particularly strange law for a number of reasons. First, what exactly are “suspicious circumstances?” Second, why would someone even handle a salmon in suspicious circumstances, anyways?

It doesn’t take much law research on Britain to find silly legal statutes seemingly without any legislative intent. If you’ve ever discovered any bizarre legal statutes when doing legislative history research, feel free to share what you’ve found in the comments! Learn more.

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