Business Law: Andrew West on how Santa could find himself on the wrong side of the law

Andrew West of Gotelee Solicitors.

Andrew West of Gotelee Solicitors. - Credit: Archant

There’s nothing we like more than a bit of festive cheer. However, whilst many children’s thoughts may be turning to Santa Claus, and his troupe of toy-making elves and reindeer distribution team, we want to highlight a slightly darker side, when you consider his working practices and his blatant disregard of our laws.

Let’s start by thinking about how he treats his staff. The Elfish Workers Union has described working conditions in the factory at the North Pole as “inhuman”, being required to work in sub-zero temperatures (when our laws require workplace temperatures to be 16 degrees Celsius or greater).

None of the elves are paid. The EWU have claimed that elves work 18 hour days, seven days a week and only get one day off a year at Christmas (suggesting that is only because Mr Claus is highly intoxicated and won’t notice them not working). This is a flagrant breach of both the National Minimum Wage and Working Time legislation.

It is estimated that there are approximately 526million children under the age of 14 in the world who celebrate Christmas on December 25. Santa has to deliver presents to almost 22m children an hour, every hour, on the night before Christmas.

If he drinks a glass of sherry or whisky at each stop we would suggest that, by the time he hits the UK, he may just be a teensy bit over the limit. And to add insult to injury, the sleigh must travel at an estimated 650 miles per second to complete its rounds.


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So not only is he speeding, whilst drunk, but the sonic booms as he breaks the sound barrier must surely also warrant a noise abatement notice. We won’t even get into the trespass issue.

To move reindeer, Mr Claus should have filled in a Standard Movement (AML24) document and reported all movements to the proper authorities. He should have also reported Rudolph’s red nose, as a symptom of infectious bovine rhinotracheitis – a reportable disease.

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So this year, please think carefully if you put out a glass of sherry for Santa Claus. You’re potentially aiding and abetting a criminal mastermind.

: : Andrew West is a partner at Gotelee Solicitors.

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