Thursday, December 16, 2021

Santa Claus and the Law

In Custodia Legis, the blog of the Law Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. published a fun little roundup this week about various laws relating to Santa Claus:

"Local, federal and foreign governments are doing their regulatory best to speed his mail and ease his journey across borders with foreign livestock, regardless of his nationality or the emissions his vehicle produces."

You may have also caught the article Santa Claus in court: From bingo prizes to custody hearings by Nathan Baker earlier this week in The Lawyer's Daily. Santa apparently managed to get himself into a spot of trouble here in Canada but a court decision wisely spared him:

"Santa’s largesse got him in trouble in Community Fundraising Corp. v. Newfoundland and Labrador (DGSL) 2004 NLTD 236. There, Santa arrived at a bingo and, without warning to management, increased the night’s prizes over the statutorily allowed limits for the night. 'Santa Claus — there being only one, according to counsel — is a repeat offender whose activities led to the two-week suspension of the licence of another bingo operator.' Santa’s generosity apparently does need to be closely watched, but the court eventually found that 'the regulation, as presently worded, is an elephant gun; it is not an appropriate weapon with which to dispatch the Christmas mouse'."

A quick search of various Scottish, English, Australian and American legal websites produced a list of quite a few potential legal problems our good friend Saint Nick could run into, including, but not limited to:

  • Violating the separation of Church and State in the US
  • Breaking and entering
  • Invasion of privacy
  • Illegallly operating a toy factory
  • Trademark infringement
  • Patent infringement
  • Copyright infringement
  • Labour law violations
  • Numerous civil aviation regulations violations
  • Numerous breeches of sovereign airspace
  • Speeding
  • Animal cruelty
  • Intentional infliction of emotional distress (when kids don't get the gifts they want)
  • Lack of proper licenses, insurance and registration
  • Crossing international borders without a passport
  • Tariff evasion
  • Failing to file tax returns
  • Running an international crime enterprise 
  • Alienation of affection: apparently, in some U.S. states, if someone sees mommy or daddy kissing Santa Claus under the mistletoe, then the other partner or spouse can sue Santa for disrupting the marriage

Of course, I am sure most of the lawyers who have identified these potential problems are prepared to offer their services pro bono to Santa. In the spirit of the season.

Happy Holidays. Be safe.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 6:06 pm


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