The Strangest Laws in England and Scotland


There are some strange laws in the United Kingdom and Scotland. Although some of these laws have been revoked, a few remain in effect.

From being illegal to be drunk in a pub to the inexistence of manslaughter in Scotland, you will be surprised at some of the unlawful things. An infographic by EM Law has revealed some of the weirdest UK laws that people might not be aware of. Let’s dive deep into things and explore some of these, as well as assess some of the unique laws applicable specifically to Scotland.

England Laws

There are some archaic laws still in effect. If you are found breaking any of these, you could be fined or even imprisoned. Some of which include:

Being drunk is illegal in a pub

One strange UK legislation that may shock many is that you are not permitted to be intoxicated in a bar. The Metropolitan Act of 1839 states that it is illegal for anyone to be “drunk in charge of Licensed Premises.” So, if you are caught drunk in a bar, the establishment’s owner could be fined.

The Licensing Act of 2003 also forbids supplying alcoholic beverages to people already inebriated and purchasing alcohol on someone else’s behalf. You could be fined £200, which classifies as a ‘level 1 penalty’ or you could be fined £5,000 as part of a ‘level 5 penalty’.

The law prohibits sliding on ice or snow in London

The Metropolitan Police Act of 1989 prohibits making or using a slide “on ice or snow in any roadway or other thoroughfare” if it poses a “common hazard” to other Londoners.

A punishment of up to £500 might be imposed on anyone who commits such an offence. Suppose the idea of building an ice slide appeals to you. In that case, we regret to inform you that even more ordinary activities like flying a kite or ‘playing any game to the displeasure of the occupants’ are forbidden.

Unlicensed television viewing is a criminal offence

Yes, you read that correctly. Watching TV without a license is considered a crime in the UK. If you think you can watch TV without a license, you are mistaken. Section 363 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it illegal to watch television without a license, and if caught, you might face a fine of up to £1,000.

It is unlawful to transport boards of wood down a sidewalk unless there are intentions of it being unloaded from a vehicle

The Metropolitan Police Act of 1839 requires that any boards carried on pavement can only be done so if it is unloaded from or being loaded onto a vehicle.

This law dates back to the Middle Ages, when carts were regularly overloaded, resulting in the wood falling off and putting people at risk.

In the UK, you can’t stroll cows along the street during the day

The Metropolitan Streets Act of 1867 makes it illegal to drive cattle through the streets between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. This stems from the Metropolitan Police District unless someone has special authorisation from the Police Commissioner.

According to the legislation, when this law was implemented it was unlawful for “any person driving or directing cattle in contravention of this section will be entitled to a penalty of not more than ten shillings for each head of cattle, thus driven or conducted.”

Unusual Apparent Laws in Scotland

Purchasing alcohol after 10 p.m is illegal

In Scotland, you are not allowed to buy alcohol after 10 pm. The punishment for breaking this law is a £100 fine.

Alcohol can only be sold between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Alcohol cannot be sold outside of these hours, even in 24-hour supermarkets and off-licences, unlike in England, where it may be sold.

As 10 p.m. approaches, this frequently results in a wild rush to the stores and many disappointed consumers.

If someone knocks on your door, you must allow them to use your toilet

Many people in Scotland consider it a law to let others use your bathroom if they knock on your door, even if it is legally more of a tradition. According to historians, it stems from the country’s love of hospitality. However, nothing in the legislation suggests that it is genuinely enforceable.

The term ‘manslaughter’ does not exist

The most closely related crime is culpable homicide, resulting in a prison sentence of up to life imprisonment. Culpable homicide covers instances in which the death of a person is caused by the reckless, dangerous, or negligent actions of another person. It also applies when someone kills another person while committing a crime.

The ‘Not proven’ verdict

‘Not proven’ is used alongside ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ in Scotland. This verdict is not used in England because only two conceivable outcomes are guilty or not guilty.

While a judge or jury believes someone is guilty, there isn’t enough evidence to convict them. Regardless of this discrepancy, the legal acquittal power of ‘not proven’ is the same as ‘not guilty.’


England and Scotland have some of the strangest laws around. While some of these laws may seem outdated, they are still technically on the books. So, if you’re planning a trip to either of these locations, be sure to brush up on your local laws beforehand. And, as always, be respectful of the customs and cultures of your host country.

The latest stories