Here are seven laws in Scotland that differ in England

Scots law and English law have been separate for centuries, which has led to differences in the way it works in each country.
There are many differences in law between England and Scotland (Photo: Shutterstock)There are many differences in law between England and Scotland (Photo: Shutterstock)
There are many differences in law between England and Scotland (Photo: Shutterstock)

Some are more major than others, so here are seven laws that are different in Scotland compared to England.

1. Drink driving limit

In Scotland, the amount you can drink before being considered under the influence is lower than the limit in England.

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The limit for the amount of alcohol on your breath in Scotland is 22mcg per 100ml of breath, compared to 35mcg in England.

2. Buying alcohol past 10pm

Unlike in England where alcohol is available almost all day - and certainly into the small hours from supermarkets - shops in Scotland are not legally allowed to sell alcohol past 10pm.

Often this results in a mad rush to the shops and several disappointed customers as 10pm gets closer.

3. You need to let someone use your toilet if they knock on your door

Although it’s technically more of a custom, in Scotland it’s seen as a law by many to let people use your toilet if they knock on your door. Historians say it originates from the country’s love of hospitality. However, there is nothing on the statute book to suggest it is actually enforceable.

4. No such thing as arson

‘Arson’ does not exist in Scotland as an offence. The act of deliberately starting a fire is instead called ‘wilful fire raising’. Therefore, to call someone an arsonist in Scotland doesn’t really mean anything from a legal point of view.

5. No such thing as manslaughter

No, this doesn’t mean accidentally killing someone is not a crime in Scotland. But similar to arson, this type of crime has a different name. The Scottish definition of ‘culpable homicide’ is roughly the same as English law’s definition of manslaughter.

6. Shop opening times on Sundays

The Sunday Trading Act 1994 made it illegal for large shops in England to be open for more than six continuous hours.

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However, shops in Scotland were not included in this law, allowing supermarkets and other large businesses to make the most of weekend shopping.

7. ‘Not proven’ verdict

In Scotland, alongside ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’ is ‘not proven’. This verdict is not used in England, where the only two possible outcomes are ‘guilty’ and ‘not guilty’.

‘Not proven’ can be used to mean that while a judge or jury believes a person to be guilty, there is not enough proof to return a verdict of ‘guilty’.

The use of ‘not proven’ has the same legal acquittal power as ‘not guilty’, despite this difference.