judges crossing road under umbrellasWe all know the law is an ass (as Dickens wrote) but it takes the legal world's bigwigs to decide the top ten silliest laws.

The Law Commission has proposed sweeping away more than 800 old laws that are cluttering up the statute book, which, it says, is littered with dead law from the 1600s and earlier. This is "long after they have ceased to serve any useful purpose".
Here's ten things the legal eagles want to devour:
  • An Act of 1856 passed to help imprisoned debtors secure their early release from prison
  • A 1710 Act to raise coal duty to pay for 50 new churches in London
  • 38 obsolete Acts relating to the various railway companies operating in British India and the wider East Indies
  • 40 Acts relating to the City of Dublin and passed by the UK Parliament before Ireland was partitioned in 1921
  • A 1696 Act to fund the rebuilding of St Paul's Cathedral after the Great Fire of 1666
  • An 1800 Act to hold a lottery to win the £30,000 Pigot Diamond
  • 57 obsolete Acts to raise money for the parish poor, including a 1697 Act to run a workhouse in Exeter
  • 295 obsolete railway Acts. Many of the railways projects outlined in these Acts collapsed in the banking crisis of 1866
  • 16 Acts passed between 1798 and 1828 to impose duty on every pint of ale, beer or porter brewed or sold in parts of Scotland
  • A 1696 turnpike Act to repair the roads between Reigate (Surrey) and Crawley (West Sussex)

Crucially, it also proposes the removal of unnecessary taxation provisions.

Sir James Munby, chairman of the Law Commission for England and Wales, said: "Getting rid of statutory dead wood helps to simplify and modernise our law, making it more intelligible. It saves time and costs for lawyers and others who need to know what the law actually is, and makes it easier for citizens to access justice.

"This report and draft Bill are a great achievement for the Law Commissions. We are committed to ridding the statute book of meaningless provisions from days gone by and making sure our laws are relevant to the modern world."

The Statute Law (Repeals) Bill is expected to be introduced into Parliament this summer. It is the largest the Commissions have ever produced. It will repeal 817 whole Acts and part-repeal 50 other Acts.

The earliest repeal is from around 1322 (Statutes of the Exchequer) and the latest is part of the Taxation (International and Other Provisions) Act 2010.

The lawyers insist: "These repeal proposals were developed following a rigorous research and consultation process. Everyone interested in the proposals was given the opportunity to contribute their views."

I say: good riddance. Old and out dated laws just waste taxpayers money. The more they get rid of the better.

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