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12 Laws of Christmas

Tuesday December 20, 2022

Christmas is nearly here. The presents are wrapped, the fridge is stocked and the children are waiting patiently for Santa to arrive. It’s a time to eat, drink and be merry, but with so many celebrations underway, there’s a list of weird and wonderful ways you could be breaking the law over the festive season.

1- Strapping your tree to the car

Driving Home for Christmas, with a Christmas tree strapped to the car is a picture we are all familiar with, it’s a common scene in some of the nation’s favourite Christmas films, however, according to the UK Highway Code, drivers must ensure they do not overload their vehicles.

That includes the seven-foot Christmas tree strapped to your hatchback which could lead to points on your licence or a fine of up to £5,000. Make sure to face the stump of the tree to the front of the car and use a roof rack to make sure your tree is secured tightly for that journey home.

2- Using your phone at a drive-thru

Festive lattes and an old-fashioned cup of cocoa are too good to resist at this time of year, and with more and more people travelling across the country to visit long-seen family members, drive-thrus are one of the most convenient ways to get your hands on one. But, think twice before reaching for Apple Pay to fund your coffee habit.

It is actually an offence to use or interact with any hand-held mobile telephone or device whilst the car is running, and could lead to a £200 fine, meaning that gingerbread latte may become a lot more expensive if you’re not careful.

3- Eating mince pies

Back in 1644, it was illegal to eat mince pies on Christmas Day as part of a Puritan Christmas which was deemed a day of fasting by law. Luckily this legal restriction was lifted in 1660 and mince pies have been a holiday favourite ever since.

4- Killing Game on Christmas Day

Getting the Christmas dinner together can be tough for the person in charge, so be sure to get your game ahead of the big day. For those involved in hunting, it’s worth remembering that it’s actually an offence to kill or take game on a Sunday or, Christmas Day, so if you were planning to hunt on Christmas Day, it might be worth having a rethink.

5- Giving presents to your client

Christmas is a time for giving, but violations of the Bribary Act may be more than your client wished for this Christmas. By law, it is illegal to receive a gift that is used to induce a person to perform improperly a relevant function or activity, or to reward a person for their improper performance.

Most places have anti-bribery policies in place so if you do intend to gift your client, we’d suggest presents in value to the context and for the purpose of being a Christmas present only.

6- Opening someone else’s present

With cards and presents being posted left, right and centre it is only natural to accidentally (or not) open a parcel that was not for you. But did you know that it is actually an offence to intentionally open a parcel that was not intended for you?

7- Opening shops on Christmas Day

It may be collectively presumed that shops are closed at Christmas simply so workers can take a well-deserved break, but actually, it is the law to close on Christmas Day. Under the Christmas Day trading act, any shop that is larger than 3,000 square feet (think big Tesco) is prohibited from opening.

8- Selling Christmas Crackers to minors

Christmas crackers are classed as category one firework and belong in the same category as sparklers and party poppers meaning anyone under the age of 12 can’t buy them. Be sure to supervise your kids as they pick out the crackers this year so that no undue law-breaking occurs.

9- Placing a stamp upside down

With the scramble to get presents and cards in the post in time for Christmas, you may stick the stamp on upside down however it could be seen as an act of treason. Whilst no one has ever been penalised for it, post at your own risk.

10- Sliding on ice or snow in London

The Metropolitan Police prohibits Londoners from sliding on ice or snow in the street. If found to be sliding on snow, you could be fined up to £500.

11- Getting drunk at a Christmas Party

One too many glasses of bucks fizz may have drastic consequences under the licensing act which states that any person found drunk on licensed premises (pubs and restaurants included) are liable to a penalty, so be careful at that next office party.

12- Wearing a Suit of Armour in Parliament

No knights of the green square will be seen this holiday period, under the Statute Forbidding Bearing of Armour. By law, it is illegal for an MP to wear a suit of armour inside the Houses of Parliament. Put in place by Edward II to prevent threats to Parliament, the law was never repealed and therefore remains in force to this day!

It's a time to eat, drink and be merry, but with so many celebrations underway, there's a list of weird and wonderful ways you could be breaking the law over the festive