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The fancy dress that could land you a huge fine and time behind bars this Halloween

Aruna Verma, Associate Professor at The University of Law, explores Halloween laws around the world.

As millions prepare to get their scare on this Halloween Aruna Verma, Associate Professor Programme & Student Lead GDL, MA Law & Conversion Programmes at The University of Law (ULaw), has warned revellers to avoid one costume that could have serious legal repercussions.

According to UK laws anyone found to be dressing as a police officer or member of law enforcement in public this Halloween could face fines up to an unlimited amount, and even jail time in some cases.

This is due to the Police Act 1996 , which sets out that anyone dressing as police with intent to deceive would face up to six months in jail and an unlimited fine. Even without intent to deceive, those dressed as law enforcement could still be found guilty of an offence and fined up to £1,000, and simply having any article of police uniform on you could result in a fine of up £200.

Looking further afield, Halloween brings with it a range of weird and wonderful laws that still stand true today. Here, Aruna Verma delves into some of the spookiest laws to watch out for this Halloween:

Flight restrictions for witches

In 2013, Swaziland introduced a law that made it illegal for witches to fly their brooms above 150m. With a firm belief in witchcraft across the country, those found to be flying their broomsticks higher than 150m will be subject to arrest and fined R500 000.

There are no limitations in place just yet for flying below 150m, so watch the skies on Halloween night.

Paranormal real estate

When selling a house, it’s recommended that you advise the buyers if you believe there to be any house guests present from beyond the grave.

The most famous case in this respect is Stambovsky v. Ackley, 169 A.D.2d 254 in New York, commonly known as the “Ghostbusters ruling”. In this case, the seller had previously advertised a property as being haunted, unbeknown to the new buyer. Upon finding out about the paranormal houseguests, the buyer filed an action to cancel the contract of sale and for damages for fraudulent misrepresentation of sale.

The action wasn’t upheld in court, which many believe to be because the buyer didn’t show up. It was noted, however, that the alleged hauntings could have greatly affected the price of the property, which would have been grounds for legal action.

Don’t cry witch

The Witchcraft Act of 1735 made it a crime for any human being to claim a person had magical powers or was a practising witch, which effectively put an end to the hunting and execution of witches in the UK.

The act was later repealed by the Fraudulent Mediums Act 1951, which prohibited any person from claiming to be a psychic, medium or other spiritualist with intent to deceive and gain money. This was in turn repealed again in 2008 under consumer rights laws, and it all dates back to 16th Century witches.

Aruna continues: “Laws are put in place to govern and protect the living, but it’s important to note these laws don’t always extend beyond the grave. The most important thing to remember this Halloween is to have fun, avoid causing public disruption or nuisance, and stay safe. We’d also recommend if you do have mystical powers or plan on raising the dead that you keep it to yourself.”

To find out more about spooky Halloween laws, visit: https://www.law.ac.uk/resources/blog/spooky-laws-still-in-place-today/