Q. I heard recently that it is against the law to be drunk in a pub. This seems odd to me – can it possibly be true?
A. English law comes from a variety of different sources. These include Acts passed by the Westminster Parliament and Acts passed by the devolved Parliaments and cases that have been decided in various courts that are relied upon as precedents.
In recent decades an increasingly important source of our laws has been the European Union.
Local bye-laws still have a perhaps surprisingly big influence on law and order issues.
Being drunk in the pub is not allowed because of the Licensing Act 1872 which forbids it- an Act of the UK Parliament at Westminster.
Another provision of that Act forbids you to be drunk when you are in charge of a steam engine. Or a horse.
In 1322 there came into force an extremely important law. About fish. This states that: “all beached whales and sturgeons must be offered to the Reigning Monarch”.
Cambridge University PHD student Christopher Sargeant looked into this and some other little-known laws a little while back. His theory was that the law may have reflected the desire of King Edward the Second to control levels of “overly conspicuous consumption” in the realm. Consideration was given to this law in 2004 when a fisherman caught a 9lb sturgeon off the coast of Wales. He offered it to the Queen.
She didn’t want it.
Queuing as we all know is a great British virtue. We don’t need to be told to queue – left to our own devices and if we don’t have much else on that day lots of British people will happily form a queue of one if there is no better pastime available. But Transport for London takes queuing particularly seriously. If you jump a queue for tickets – specifically you must join the queue “at the back” (Legal Eagle thinks you would have to be a bit dim as well as a rude queue jumper if you didn’t understand the proper procedure for joining a queue) – you could be up for a £1000 fine. Harsh – but fair? (Legal Eagle doesn’t think many fines actually get handed out for this offence).
There is a grave moral to this tale: if you want to drive your steam engine to an angling competition DON’T get drunk first and make sure you queue up for a place in line on the river bank. Oh – and leave your ponies behind even if you have had only a very small amount to drink. (Better safe than sorry).
Otherwise the judge will throw the book at you.
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