Interesting fact of the day that I learned from CNN International:

According to an obscure law in Liverpool, it is illegal for a woman to be topless unless she is working as a clerk in a tropical fish store.

17 comments for “Interesting fact of the day that I learned from CNN International:

  1. Hawise
    November 6, 2007 at 5:41 pm

    You wouldn’t want her to have to ruin a perfectly good blouse fishing a squirmy fish out of a tank, would you? Seems reasonable to me:)

  2. AJS
    November 6, 2007 at 6:35 pm

    illegal or legal?

    Either way sounds like a Monty Python sketch

  3. Mary
    November 6, 2007 at 6:42 pm

    Sounds like they’ve been watching Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

  4. zuzu
    November 6, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Just keep your nipples away from the barracuda.

  5. Kristen from MA
    November 6, 2007 at 6:58 pm

    glad they’re covering the important stuff. who needs blogs when these crack investigative reporters are on the job?


  6. Mustella
    November 6, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    I always wonder what freak event caused weird laws like this one to be passed. In the printmaking lab of my art school there was a list of banned items, which included soda, food, and ninja weapons. All other kinds of weapons were not on the list.

  7. Marissa
    November 6, 2007 at 9:11 pm

    I am really lost about that law. Either it is so that women employees have a freer range of attire for when they need to partially dive into tanks to care fore the fish? But what about other water-related workplaces? Or is it for women employees only to add to a sort of “tropical feel” to the store? I totally buy more pet fish when I see topless women,I dont know about you.

  8. Roxie
    November 6, 2007 at 10:23 pm

    I’ve always wanted to live in the U.K.!

  9. November 6, 2007 at 10:38 pm

    The BBC covered a similar-sounding story today, and didn’t give any citations. I wrote them a letter asking for citations, and showing them that one of the “dumb laws” they gave was provably false, and all they did was remove the description of that one law without addressing the underlying problem. I am thinking that this is a non-story made to promote the UK Gold channel (which is half-owned by the BBC).

    But maybe the Liverpool fish one is true; did CNN say where they got the information, or which year the council passed the bylaw, or anything like that?

  10. November 7, 2007 at 4:20 am

    In the printmaking lab of my art school there was a list of banned items, which included soda, food, and ninja weapons. All other kinds of weapons were not on the list.

    Bwahahahahahaha….. there goes my morning coffee!

  11. November 7, 2007 at 4:22 am

    I seem to remember once reading that an old law making it illegal for women to wear dentures in Connecticut was never removed.

  12. violetfishy
    November 7, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Ah, well, I am a Liverpudlian born and breed.

    Oh, the halcyon days working in that tropical fish store! Although we didn’t sell the fish live…we deep fried them and served them with a side of chips and mushy peas.

  13. Jordan
    November 7, 2007 at 10:13 am

    As usual, a non-lawyer did not consider the possible surrounding circumstances and the “one-time” aspect of the law.

    Here’s what probably happened: a menopausal women, suffering a “hot flash,” working toward the close of business in a tropical fish store, took off her shirt and wasn’t otherwise able to “think” clearly in that moment. A mother with small children walked by, became agitated, and called the police who issued an “indecency” ticket. The women lost in the local court, and the case went up on appeal.

    The appellate division ruled that “under the circumstances,” the woman had suffered from a momentary lapse and without her normal faculties available to her, she could not be found to have been “indecent” for, among other reasons, that she had no intent to be “indecent” or to “expose” herself or create a risk of harm for children or other passers-by, etc.

    It is also possible that such was a strict liability crime (thus not requiring any “mens rea” – intent), and only the loss of faculty was the issue. In any event, it was a just result under the circumstances and one which you should hope would apply to your own mom if she should suffer so.

    I have no idea if the above is correct or factual, but I have seen things like this happen. The one-time result is called “justice” in the equitable sense of “letting right be done.”

    Such circumstantial and “one-off” laws are often headlined in the judge’s Decision as “NOT TO BE USED OR CITED AS PRECEDENT IN ANY OTHER CASE” when being “published” (if they are published at all). “Published”, as I mean it here, is NOT whether a newspaper ran the story, but whether the Decision was published in an official law reporter.

    The facts behind the facts are often more interesting – and always more telling – than the bare decision (which is usually an exception “carved out” for the unique circumstances then before the Court). Of course, the above does not necessarily apply to laws from long ago or from different human developmental eras.

  14. Skwee
    November 8, 2007 at 5:19 pm


  15. Molly
    November 8, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Speaking as a fish freak of considerable proportions, I find this less crazy than most. The UK’s a fish-friendly place, first. Second, anyone who’s ever owned a large (75+ gallons) aquarium knows that the only practical way to work in it is shirtless.

    I’d suggest it’s a pretty simple idea: the real law is that women in Liverpool aren’t allowed to go shirtless (which is itself a bad law, no argument here), BUT given the practicalities of the tropical-fish hobby and industry, they made that an exception. Probably the bill’s sponsor was a fellow fish freak and well aware of the burden the unaltered law would place on female fish-store employees. Having to bring a dozen shirts to work is asking too much!

  16. Molly
    November 8, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    (Or, if common law as the slightly crazed poster above suggests, then the judge was probably the fish freak in question.)

  17. July 17, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    That truly is a strange law… well I’m off to England to go to the fish store!

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