Out-Law, one of my favourite sites for digital rights news, have come out with a number of excellent funnies, written totally straight-faced as "news" articles, about some of the legal risks that face poor Santa Claus in this age of increasing red tape and regulations:
Santa putting children's information at risk, warn experts - "Santa Claus could be breaking privacy laws in his collection and use of data about British children... Yuletide cheer-bringer Claus could be putting the personal data of millions of children at risk... Children across Britain who write letters to Claus with a list of gift requests are not told for how long that data is kept, or if it will be used for other purposes such as marketing by third parties... What about the naughty/nice database?.. Are children given notice that behavioural data is being collected about them throughout the year? And does it qualify as covert monitoring, which would breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights?..."
Santa ignores children's refund rights, warn experts - "Santa Claus's failure to alert children to their rights to full refunds within seven working days under the Distance Selling Regulations is in breach of those rules... All they have to do is cancel their contract, and I imagine a follow-up letter up the chimney should do it. He must also tell children that they have this right, which he plainly doesn't... Claus is likely to be in breach of one company's trade mark with his gift distribution enterprise. 'Santa Claus of Greenland' has a trade mark over that term in relation to games, playthings, sports goods, decorations for Christmas trees and the regulation and control of electricity, amongst other things..."
Reckless Santa could cause yuletide chaos, warn experts - "Santa Claus has been accused of putting his life and the lives of others at risk through breaches of health and safety laws. Brandy-loving present-giver Claus behaves recklessly and in direct contravention of UK legislation... Santa should at least make sure his sleigh has guardrails to prevent a fall and a fall arrest system installed so that if he does fall he is protected... Make sure your roof is safe and that the chimney is clear so that he doesn't injure himself on the way down... The alcohol restrictions are the same for every pilot whether you are flying a light aircraft or a 747... It is 20 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which is nothing, basically, a trace. One brandy probably would put you over that limit... There are also flying height restrictions which Claus is in clear breach of..."
Santa's hiring policies may discriminate, warn experts - "Santa Claus could be breaking a raft of employment laws designed to protect exploited and discriminated-against workers... Employers are governed by the European Working Time Directive, which restricts the number of hours anyone can work. That law could land Claus in hot water, said Doherty. 'In my mind the elves work full time all year round, and probably work more than 48 hours per week for the majority of the year,' he said... If Santa had to reduce his workforce as a result of the downturn [in toy demand due to a higher than normal level of bad children] and the elves were employees, they would be entitled to a redundancy payment. If they were not employees they would get nothing... What about the elf who wants to work flexibly so that they can look after their kids but Santa won't agree because he needs everybody working hard at this time of year?... It may be possible that if he only recruits elves to manufacturer his toys he will risk claims from other race types..."
Santa: environmental catastrophe?- "Santa Claus is ignoring his environmental obligations and could be putting the lives of thousands of livestock and agricultural livelihoods at risk... in his haste he may be ignoring his obligations to recycle and dispose of goods he has previously delivered... All producers, irrespective of size, were to register with an approved PCS by 15th March 2007, so Santa and the elves may be in breach if they have not registered and so they may face prosecution... His use of hooved animals in areas blighted by transmittable diseases is potentially his most serious safety breach. Outbreaks of foot and mouth and bluetongue diseases this autumn have put the future of the already-battered UK farming industry in jeaopardy once again. Claus's bringing of reindeer in and out of restriction zones could be a serious threat to the industry..."
Who'd be Father Christmas in the UK, eh?