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Ding dong merrily ..

21 December 2009

If you’re planning to grub up your apple and pear orchards in the New Year, go fishing in the Lower Esk without permission or sell a game bird killed on Christmas Day, you may want to think again. These seemingly innocent pastimes could now get you into big trouble, warns litigation partner Nick Cox.


They are a few of the thousands of new crimes created by the present government, which during its 12-year tenure, has spawned more than 3,600 new criminal offences; almost one for every day it has been in power.

Thanks to this wave of legislative diarrhoea, we can no longer enjoy traditional diversions such as impersonating a traffic warden, selling a grey squirrel, importing Polish potatoes or disturbing a pack of eggs without permission.

And who among us has not rounded off a jolly evening by ‘wilfully pretending to be a barrister’—an amusement now put paid to by The Legal Services Act 2007.

There are new crimes involving the identification of cattle, what can be done with ruddy ducks and japanese knotweed, the use of automatic rail-weighbridges and, curiously, the obstruction of eminent bodies such as the Adult Learning Inspectorate, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales or court security officers in the course of their work.

There are things we can’t do at sea either. The Protection of Wrecks (RMS Titanic) Order 2003 bars us from entering the hull of this legendary ship without permission from the Secretary of State. And a raft of other laws have left fishermen scratching their heads over the Scallop Fishing Order, the ban on landing a catch of unsorted fish without permission and ‘approved techniques’ for weighing herring and mackerel.

So far as the festive season is concerned, mindful of the Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act 1998, it might be wise to hold back on the party bangers this year. Safer to lay on a harmless carol concert in your church hall or community centre—but apply for a licence first, or you could get a six-month prison stretch.

And the ‘ding dong merrily’ is a seasonal reminder that if you’re away over the holiday and your house is alarmed, make sure you nominate a keyholder. Leaving the alarm to jangle with nobody to turn it off is not only antisocial but (you’ve guessed ) now a criminal offence under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act!

If you need clear and pragmatic legal advice, we’re here to help so please get in touch.

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Nick Cox LLB (Hons)
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Nick Cox
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