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Loophole Abuse: Real Life Law
  • Averted in the Romano-German legal system used in Northern Europe. The text of the law has only secondary importance beyond the legal principles and judicial goods. The judge has very much leeway (the preceding cases aren't binding and the judge has free right to accept or disregard any evidence) and can rule out any attempts of loophole abuse at will.
  • Averted with the Scottish legal system, which has the doctrine of nobile officium that allows the Judges of the Court of Session or High Court of Justiciary to provide extra-legal remedies provided they are in line with common sense and mercy. It is incredibly rarely used, but the threat of it is CX enough to stymie egregious loophole abuses.
  • Denmark suffers majorly from this for its youth-workers. It depends on the manager and the job, but because any person under 18 isn't a legitimate adult, you really have no way of saying so.
    • Sadly even in other countries and what not, high ranked workers have a tendency to abuse "rookies" for jobs they can't be bothered with.
  • Quite possibly the king of this trope in common-law jurisdictions involves various Statutes of Frauds. These laws dictate that certain kinds of agreements and contracts must be evidenced by signed writing in order to be enforceable by courts.note  Thing is, courts hate the Statute of Frauds since it allows people to weasel their way out of keeping their end of the bargain due to some technicality. As a result, courts have riddled these statutes with exceptions and loopholes, sometimes completely out of whole cloth, in order to enforce promises people have made. This is interesting, since this is judges abusing--and creating!--loopholes to keep people (or rather their lawyers) from abusing loopholes that would otherwise exist.
    • An example? One statute that exists everywhere is that contracts covering agreements that will last for more than one year need to be in writing. Does exactly one year count? No. Does a contract lasting for a 'lifetime' count? No. (You could die at any time.) Does a contract that does not specifically state a length of time yet couldn't possibly be completed in one year (e.g. a construction contract for a fairly large project) count? No. (Of course, does this mean that making a contract not in writing for any of this is wise? No!)
  • In July 2008, the state of Nebraska passed a "Safe Haven" law, saying that parents may leave a child at certain hospitals, no questions asked, if for any reason they feel they are not fit to care for the child. This was designed to prevent the cruel abandonment and death of unwanted infants. However, unlike many similar laws, this program did not specify an age limit nor restrict its use to state residents. It made the news after thirty-six teenagers were dropped off, mostly by out-of-staters who traveled to Nebraska for that purpose. (The Obvious Rule Patch was quickly passed to specify the acceptance of only infants up to 30 days old.)
    • And then there's the smartass 20-year-old who, hearing that a district judge had ruled that life begins at conception, dropped by every liquor store in town to argue that, technically, the judge's ruling meant he was now over the legal drinking age. No word on whether any liquor store owner retorted that they count from his date of birth.
  • Several legal systems allow judges to effectively say "no loopholes", generally by noting the difference between the letter and the intention or spirit of the law. The most prominent of these is The Common Law, where the doctrine/system of equity developed specifically to address this kind of situation. The system of equity ultimately derives from the tradition of throwing oneself on the King's conscience if you need help—particularly if you had previously lost a suit at law but felt that the outcome was too harsh; the old saying in the legal community is that "equity tempers the rigor of the common law". A large number of equitable doctrines are specifically aimed at situations where the common law would normally let assholes get away with it (for instance, the equitable doctrine that forfeiture—i.e. losing a big investment—allows you to breach an express term has allowed many small businesses to escape from their landlords' attempts to kick them out in favor of someone who will pay a higher rent—since businesses usually put money into modifying a rented space to suit their purposes, they often lose big when forced to leave). As a result, equity allows courts a great deal of flexibility; unlike suits at law, where in general you can only win money damages, suits at equity allow for a variety of other legal remedies that might suit you better. Furthermore, the flexibility of equity allows judges to find ways to punish douchebaggery and other unpleasant behavior in situations where in other systems that might not be possible.
    • However, Louisiana Law is based on the Napoleonic Code meaning that, unlike in other states, letter of the law trumps precedent. Meaning that Loophole Abuse is often played straight. So to speak.

  • Seen frequently in fiction, but it does happen in real life: police using various means to get information or confessions without quite violating the accused's rights. The most common one (in jurisdictions where appropriate) is making it clear they are not taking someone into custody or arresting them, therefore not being required to inform them of their rights, specifically the right to have an attorney present. While common in fiction, courts generally take a dim view of this sort of thing if the police are acting like the suspect is in custody, just not doing it officially.
    • They're required to read suspects their rights before interrogating (technically interview) suspects, not necessarily immediately after arresting them. And, at least in the U.S., those rights exist regardless of whether the officer reads them aloud. As soon as the suspect realizes he or she is being interrogated, or that he/she isn't free to walk away from the conversation at any time, or even so long as the other person in the conversation is a police officer regardless of whether they're in police custody or not, the suspect has the right to remain silent.
      • Abuse of this sort took place on a horrifying scale in Nazi Germany. The Weimar Constitution, much of which was technically retained throughout the Nazi period, provided extensive protection for those who were formally accused of a crime and placed under arrest, but nothing for those who were merely in "protective custody." Most victims of Nazism were never accused of any crime or placed under arrest, but were merely placed in "protective custody."
      • Specter of abuse through this format was raised in United States after 9/11, as many suspected terrorists were placed in "protective custody" as "material witnesses" without legal protection.
  • While most cities have a general "no indecent exposure" law which makes it illegal to be naked in public, there ain't no rule against riding the subway in your underwear.
  • Ain't no rule that says a horse can't sit on the Roman Senate.
  • Ain't no rule a cat can't be a train station master in Japan.
  • Ain't no rule that says fictional robot cats can't serve as ambassadors in the Japanese government.
  • Ain't no rule that says a fictional pundit can't run for President. Unfortunately, the Democratic Party of South Carolina decided there was a rule that said all candidates had to be "serious". Colbert continued his satirical run for "President of the United States of South Carolina" anyway, and encouraged his fans to vote for Herman Cain (who'd withdrawn from the race but was already on the ballot) in the Republican Primary as a proxy for him.
    • There isn't a rule about candidates having to be serious in the UK, which resulted in a rock star founding the Monster Raving Loony Party. And harming the political system not at all.
      • Ain't no rule in the UK that corresponds to the quite restrictive ballot access laws in (at least some) US states. Any citizen who can get a few signatures on a nomination petition and scrape together a smallish-deposit can run, and will be entitled to describe his party affiliation any way he likes. There was a real case some years ago where an individual ran as the "Literal Democrat candidate" and drew away just enough votes from the official candidate of the Liberal Democratic Party to throw the election to his opponent.
      • Actually, the Literal Democrat incident means that the rules about party affiliation was changed - in fact, it resulted in political parties being legally recognised for the first time in the UK (though the introduction of forms of proportional representation in the regional assemblies would have required the change anyway). You can only put a party name/logo on the ballot paper if it's registered with the Electoral Commission, and approved by a registered official of the party that registered it. You still only need 10 signatures from people who are registered to vote in the area to stand in UK elections, though.
    • Pat Paulsen did it first, in 1968. Then again in 1972, 1980, 1988, 1992, and 1996.
    • French comedian Coluche also ran for President in the 1981 election - he originally announced it for the lulz and ran a mock campaign but dropped out of the race shortly before the election. Partly because it was starting to look like he had a real shot at the win (which he never really wanted, he was just taking the piss all along), and partly due to pressure from more serious parties or rather, as he later recounted, due to Suspiciously Specific Denial of any pressure whatsoever: representatives from both major parties informed him he had absolutely nothing to worry about from their party; but that he should be wary of the other because those guys weren't above dirty tricks and it would be a right shame if something bad happened to him.
    • The Rhinoceros Party of Canada was a similar group, which just participated in the elections as a joke, proposing things like moving the Rocky Mountains one foot to the east (by hand) as a labor project. In 1993, the Canadian government got fed up with this and required that all political parties pay a certain fee in order to participate... which the Rhinoceros Party couldn't pay. So they declared that everyone should just vote for themselves and then disbanded... then reappeared in 2007 and remain active.
    • Similarly, this kind of thing is fairly common in Brazil. In the past, a donkey and a rhino were massively voted for congress, in their respective states and times. This specific practice of writing a joke vote in your bill died when electronic voting machines came around, but it doesn't stop ludicrously campy or just downright hilarious candidates (who may or may not do that for the joke) from appearing in political campaigns. They rarely succeed, but when they do, the supposed "protest-voting" behind it backfires when splash-votes help other, serious, not as well-intentioned politicians get in charge.
    • The Italian comedian Beppe Grillo's political participation—including his "Five-Star Movement" political party—started out as a joke. Now (2012) they're considered serious candidates and second in the polls (although this is mostly because the third place party is the one founded by Silvio Berlusconi).
      • And as of the February 2013 Italian election, they won enough seats to determine who will be running (or not) the Italian government.
    • Similarly, in the wake of the utter collapse of the Icelandic economy, a group of comedians and entertainers led by Jón Gnarr (a comedian who used to hang out with Björk) formed the "Best Party" and ran half-seriously at best for Reykjavik City Council in 2010. To everyone's surprise—including their own—they won a plurality, and Gnarr became Mayor of Reykjavik.
    • There also ain't no rule saying a comedian can't have his own super-PAC. Stephen Colbert actually got the Federal Election Commission to rule in his favor on this subject.
    • Ain't no rule your political party can't have the goal of promoting beer-drinking culture. And win 16 seats in parliament.
  • While in Britain the law is adamant that a motor-bicycle and side-car set is still a motor-bicycle, not a motor-tricycle or a motor-car, they're not too picky as to what defines a motor-car, which leads on to: There ain't no rule saying you can't take your 'B' Licence practical test with a motor-bicycle. The four criteria for allowing a vehicle to be a test candidate's choice for a 'B' licence test (the one a car driver has to pass):
    • A: Vehicle must be capable of at least 100km/h.
    • B: The seat the examiner is to sit in must have an adjustable headrest.
    • C: The seat the examiner is to sit in must have a working safety-belt.
    • D: A suitable area must be made available on the vehicle so the examiner can place his own rear-view mirror.
    • Attaching a side-car to a motorcycle makes it possible to satisfy the last three criteria. If the candidate passes, they are allowed to drive a car without having to have seen the inside of one!
    • In a similar vein, for a short while there was a rule limiting the size of motorcycle you could learn on but no corresponding limit for combinations. This led to firms making what was essentially a wheel on a spring that in legal terms was a sidecar so that people could ride stupidly powerful bikes on a provisional license.
    • The main reason why three-wheeled cars ever came into commercial production in Europe was because in some countries, they weren't legally classified as "cars", meaning you could drive one with only a moped license.
  • Old Norse Law had a built-in loophole. Each year the laws were read out (about 1/3rd a year) and if a law was left out and no one made a point of it that law was removed.
  • When a minor Succession Crisis occurred in Poland in 1384, the Polish nobles decided that Jadwiga, the younger sister of the Hungarian Queen Mary, should become the ruler of Poland. One problem: Polish law made no provision for a ruling queen (queen regnant); all previous female Polish leaders (including Jadwiga and Mary's mother Elisabeth) had been The Woman Behind The Man. On the other hand, they found (to their surprise, no doubt) that there was nothing that said the King of Poland had to be a man. Ergo, Jadwiga was crowned King of Poland. (She even became a saint; she is known in English and German as St. Hedwig, patron of a United Europe).
    • Technically, her sister was King Mary of Hungary. No Queen may rule Hungary either, but there is no law against a woman King. (This would be used again by King Maria Theresa of Hungary a few centuries later.)
  • Hatshepsut was crowned King (well, Pharaoh, but the title was masculine) and dressed up in drag (to the point of wearing a wig on her chin and going around topless) after the death of her husband (and half-brother) Thutmose II.
  • This is probably the reason why there are so many "dumb laws"; laws in areas like "no pet crocodiles on the street" or "it's illegal to bathe a donkey". Someone abused a loophole, and the city/county/etc. had to implement a law that would make future generations wonder "wtf"?
  • Adam Hills, a comedian, has an artificial foot. He can drive, but his license stipulates that he "must wear [his] artificial right foot" while doing so. As Adam points out: "...doesn't say where."
  • In some countries the sentence of "life without parole" does not exist, because it's considered a breach of human rights, cruel and unusual punishment, or just forbidden in the constitution or laws of that country. So judges will get around this by sentencing offenders to serve sentences to both the crime and any related offences consecutively, ending up with a prison sentence the defendnt could not possibly survive. For instance, if a criminal shoots two people with a gun in a public street and is found guilty of two counts of murder, two counts of assault with a deadly weapon and one count of endangerment, all of which carry heavy sentences, a judge may sentence him to serve them consecutively, ending up with a sentence of over fifty years, meaning that he could technically be released one day, but will most likely die in prison.
    • In many jurisdictions (the UK and US, both by explicit case law, and any signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights), crimes such as assault and endangerment are "lesser included offenses" to the original crime (murder), and obtaining a verdict and sentence separate of the original crime is considered double jeopardy.
  • The blocking of a loophole inadvertently led to the gay marriage movement. Prior to the 1970s, there was no law in any US state (or in any country in the world, in fact) saying that a marriage had to be between a man and a woman. However, the idea of gay marriage had not even occurred to the gay rights movement - it was as much an anti-gay symbol to them as it was to social conservatives. In 1970, two gay student activists, Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, applied for a marriage license, and were denied by the clerk on the basis that they were of the same sex. Baker and McConnell took the issue to court, not on the grounds that it was discrimination, but that both the right to marry and freedom of association were enshrined in law, and nothing said that two men couldn't get married. They failed to win the case, but as the court simply dismissed their case rather than ruling against them, no binding precedent was set. Social conservatives now realized that all it would take for a gay couple to get married now was a sympathetic clerk who would grant them a marriage license, and rushed to make explicit laws banning gay marriage. But this caught the attention of the gay rights movement, who had largely been uninterested in gay marriage before, but were angered by the introduction of more explicitly anti-gay laws and now determined to see gay marriage legalised.
  • An ingenious German man got around the EU's ban on high wattage lightbulbs for a while by importing and selling them as "heaters". That particular loophole was intentional, to allow for heat-lamps for terrariums and such, but since 95-98% of the filament bulbs' actual output is in heat (which is why they're so energy inefficient), he could technically get away with it. The loophole was soon closed and, in any case, it seems clear that the man was attempting a form of protest rather than any money making scheme.
  • In 1992, a sixteen year old high-school student was elected to a circuit court judicial seat in Idaho. It seems no one ever got around to adding a requirement for a law school degree, or even an age requirement, to the laws regarding state judges. He ran on a whim, and was rather surprised when he was actually elected. The boy served two years on the bench, mostly overseeing traffic cases, and according to all accounts wasn't all that bad a judge.
    • In fact, most posts in US elections have only the barest minimum of requirements. Residency is usually the only one, with age being second most common. Technically, anyone who fills these requirements is "qualified" to run for the office.
      • There are virtually no hard qualifications for ANY elected or appointed position in the United States Government. The US constitution spells out some very bare minimum requirements (age, residency, time since acquisition of citizenshipnote ) for both Members of Congress and the President (and, by proxy, the Vice President), but that's it. Attempts to add additional requirements via legislation have been declared unconstitutional. To get Term Limits for the President, a Constitutional Amendment had to be passed. For the various appointed offices, about the only requirements which have been legislatively added are age and competency (i.e. you must be a legal adult (18) not under the legal control of another or the court). EVERYTHING else is OK. Including the possibility that appointed positions being held by non-citizens.
      • Averted in the case of non-Federal Government posts, most of which have a laundry list of required qualifications, due to loophole abuse.
      • Also averted in the case of normal Civil Service Federal jobs, which are likewise subject to considerable regulation on requirements
      • Though this comes from one of the basic ideas that anyone can and should be able to run for office rather than limiting office to nobility or what have you. However, many such positions, such as attorney general and judge, do have additional requirements, such as "must have actively practiced law for at least X years prior".
      • This means that election to the post is based on the discretion on the voters, rather than on some immense tome that tries to predict every single possibility that may occur, even centuries in the future, and then make a judgement on whether hypothetical situations are desirable or not. Essentially the lack of rules is a vote of confidence that the voters can make sensible choices, based on whatever criteria are relevant at the time.
    • There are, in fact, no qualifications whatsoever to be a Justice on the US Supreme Court (beyond the fact that you must be appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate). Children, noncitizens, felons, or even nominating yourself is fair game (though you can't be President and a Justice at the same time; you'd have to resign from the Presidency).
      • Nor is the number of Supreme Court justices specified by the US Constitution, which led FDR to propose the Judicial Procedures Reform Bill of 1937. This bill would have allowed the President to appoint a new Supreme Court Justice for every Justice over 70 years old (which, at the time, would have meant fifteen Justices on the Supreme Court). Ostensibly this was to ensure adequate succession planning, but it was seen at the time as a means of doing an end-run around a Supreme Court hostile to FDR's New Deal. (Roosevelt got his way in the end anyway simply by serving long enough to replace 8 of the 9 Justices—one of whom retired in the midst of the scandal).
    • Strictly speaking, the only requirements for serving on the Cabinet are to be nominated by the President and be able to convince at least 50% of the people in the Senate present and voting that you'd be a good choice for the job.
  • A ballot paper for an election in the UK was found during vote counting with nothing but "fuck you tory bastards" written on it. However, as this was written in the conservative (Tory) box, the Tory candidate attempted to argue that it was a vote for him.
  • Similarly, there is no qualification necessary to be elected Pope except being a baptized Catholic male. The Papal Conclave would never elect anyone other than a Cardinal, but there's nothing stopping them from electing some random Catholic man as the Pope. He would have to be ordained bishop immediately if he hasn't been already, however.
    • Leo X (Pope 1513-1521) was a deacon, not an ordained priest. He was also made cardinal in 1489, at age 14, although he was not allowed to deliberate with the other cardinals until he was 17. Well, that's a relief, huh?
    • Celestine V (Pope July 5, 1294-December 13 1294) was an ascetic hermit named Pietro de Morrone who sent a warning to the Cardinals who had been arguing about electing a new pope for over TWO YEARS (they were evenly split between the candidates from two powerful Italian families). One Cardinal then nominated Pietro and, fed up with fighting, the others agreed. When some Cardinals brought Pietro the news of his election, he tried to run away. He ended up being well-loved by the people and hated by the establishment because he was unprepared for being Pope. He resigned the papacy under a law he declared himself. He also instituted the papal conclave, where the elector Cardinals are locked in a room until they elect the new Pope.
  • The "Net Neutrality" bill.
  • US federal tax law requires that whenever a gambler wins $1,200 or more on a single bet on any casino gambling machine, the win must be paid by hand and both the casino and the winner must fill out tax forms regarding the money won. Slot machines are often designed to make things easier by modifying the pay tables to replace all instances of $1,200 with $1,199. (For example, if a certain combination pays $400 for a $1 bet, the same combination on a $3 bet would pay $1,199 instead of $1,200.)
    • Similarly, US Federal Laws require reporting bank transfers of $10,000 or more between accounts, and also stipulate that leaving or entering the country with $10,000 or more in "negotiable form" (a specific Rules Patch mean to cover cash, financial instruments, and foreign currency including gold coins) requires the traveller to explicitly declare that amount. Consequently, many criminals arrange for bank transfers slightly below this limit, and "cash mules" working for various criminal organizations frequently travel with $9,990. The criminals simply make larger numbers of transactions (or use more mules) to get the total amount transferred without the required notices being filed (and alerting law enforcement).
      • This, in turn, led to a "structuring" law, whereas doing this can lead to immediate civil seizure of all funds in an account.
  • The ATF used to define a machine gun as a gun that fires more than one bullet per pull of the trigger. The Sputter Gun has no trigger. The ATF caught on and changed the wording. Also, they sometimes tried to "catch" what obviously is a faulty semi-auto (some mechanisms can shoot twice or more when worn — not that they're safe enough to be useful at this stage) under this.
    • Manually cranked Gatling guns do count as semi-automatic however because each fractional movement of the crank mechanism counts as a "trigger pull". Criminals every took note when Colt offered brand new reproductions of its Model 1877 Bulldog Gatling for the low low price of $50,000 and weighing in at over 300 pounds fully set up.
    • The massive amount of abuseable loopholes in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban are the primary reason so many people on both sides of the gun control debate hated the thing so much. Ban sales of a gun by name (AK-47)? Some east Asian company will just slap a different stock or something on a copy of it and give it a new name - and, for added irony, a local company will usually then re-attach the original military-type stock before selling it, which is still perfectly legal as long as they don't market it under the banned name. Ban importation of a pistol due to its small size (Walther PPK)? They'll just send the parts over to be assembled and sold domestically, or slap its slide onto the frame of its bigger cousin to increase the weight just enough to pass the minimum limit. And so on.
  • The Filipino programmers charged with the creation of the highly-destructive ILOVEYOU virus were not charged with anything by Philippine state prosecutors because there were no laws in the Philippines regarding malware at the time. So, yes, they got away with crippling millions of computers and caused billions of dollars in damages worldwide because the Philippine justice system was behind the times — something Filipinos old enough to remember the hubbub view with a peculiar mix of misplaced pride and sheepish embarrassment.
  • In Japan, gambling is illegal. So you can't exchange the balls you win in a Pachinko parlor for cash. But technically, the parlors only let you exchange the balls for various items which can be taken to another nearby store who would then "buy" the items (and if you don't head to the right store, some friendly neighborhood Pachinko parlor enforcers might be wanting to have a nice chat with you). That's why poker chips, slot-machine tokens, and paper tickets won at fairs were invented in the first place: they're a way to sidestep gambling laws.
  • Wanna bribe a politician, but don't want to go to jail? Simple! Lobbying. It's been said that there are ten ways to bribe a crooked politician, and a hundred ways to bribe an honest one.
  • The advance of technology allows crazy abuses when the law fails to predict certain acts could ever be possible. Example: it is currently legal to program a computer to buy and sell stock for you. Therefore, it is legal to program it to buy stock in New York and immediately sell in Chicago during the split-second intervals when the two exchanges are out of sync on that stock's valuenote .
  • In US states where the minimum gambling age is 21 (including Native American casinos), there are bingo variety slot machine casinos where you only have to be at least 18 to play (same as tournament bingo). The slot machines' winning combination is determined by the outcome of your current bingo card rather than just the slot spin, meaning that you're playing the bingo card upon activation of a spin, thus lowering the legal age.
  • There are a number of blind spots where some places in the United States lack any law specifically forbidding underage strippers from performing live.
  • In medieval Germany serfs couldn't carry swords, but as a sword was defined as (among other requirements) being double-edged, nothing stopped them from carrying really big knives, as long as they were single-edged.
  • Ain't no rule saying states can't award all their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote.
    • There is, however, a rule that States can't form Compacts or Agreements without the consent of Congress.note 
    • For that matter, there ain't no rule saying that you have to vote for a member of the electoral college based on who they'll vote for. The intent was for you to vote for someone smart enough to know who really should be president, but no state does that anymore.
      • In fact, most states now have "faithless elector" law, which require the elector to vote for the person they stated they would when nominated. Failing to do so has happened only a couple of times in history (and never seriously affected the outcome of the election), but most states now prevent this particular loophole from occurring.
  • Israel once offered rewards to "Heroine Mothers," women who gave birth to 10 or more children. There was no rule, however, that said the mothers had to be Jewish. The practice was stopped after Arab women kept winning, threatening Israel's status as a Jewish state.
  • This is how the American legal system works. The law code does not cover what is legal; it only defines what is illegal. If the law says nothing about something, then you can technically do it legally.
    • A concept that they borrowed from the British. Indeed, when the term was first coined, a "civil liberty" was simply something that you were not prohibited from doing.
    • There are various rules of statutory interpretation which mitigate this, such as the "mischief rule", which is best understood as "what is the mischief the legislature was trying to prevent with this law?" and then upholding that prevention, and the "golden rule", which is "don't be a twit". Indeed, judges hate Loophole Abuse, and unless the law is so badly drafted that they can't change it without legislating from the courtroom, a lawyer will spend his time convincing them that their argument is not loophole abuse. Famous common law cases where this was tried include a Canadian case where a man tried to claim that a law forcing drugstores to close at 10:00pm let him re-open at 10:01, and an English case where a statutory ban on solicitation or molestation by "common prostitutes"note  in the street was circumvented by solicitation from balconies and windows. The legal judgements in both cases are essentially the sentence: "Piss off and stop wasting my time" expressed in 2000 words.
  • In Greece, voting is supposedly compulsory and any eligible voter not voting is illegal. However, the law does not specify any punishment for not voting.
  • The filibuster, in which a politician prevents a bill from being voted on by extending debate indefinitely. It's actually as old as the Roman Republic.
    • In the United States Senate, there was originally no intention for the filibuster to be allowed. But the original Senate rules completely by accident were written in a way that allowed it. It took decades for any Senator to notice this fact. By the time it became a significant problem that Senators would try to use the filibuster to outright block rather than merely delay votes, the filibuster had become a long-established Senate tradition and thus, instead of abolishing it the Senate simply established a rule where if a large majority agrees that it's time to vote, debate can be ended against the will of those filibustering. But this still means that if a significant minority agree to the filibuster, they can maintain it indefinitely. Also, when the threshold for breaking a filibuster was lowered from a 2/3rds vote to 3/5ths, the Senate inadvertently also made it possible to indefinitely block a bill without actually having to filibuster. If the proponents of the bill can't must a 3/5ths vote to proceed, the mere threat of a filibuster is just as effective as actually holding the floor and talking constantly. And a lot less effort. Once again, it took a while before the loophole was discovered, but in recent years it's been increasingly abused.
      • It really doesn't even need to go that far. What the media and the public often hear of as the "threat of a filibuster" on a particular Senate vote is in reality something far more simple and far easier to implement. When trying to pass a law for which a quote/unquote "filibuster" has been threatened, the opposing party will vacate the chamber, except for one representative who will then continually suggest the absence of a quorum. This forces the presiding officer to conduct a quorum call and take attendance, which can take anywhere from fifteen to thirty minutes and that's if a full quorum can be rounded up. A vast, vast majority of Senate business takes place with fewer than ten Senators on the floor at any given time, handing very routine matters with suggested unanimous consent on the understanding that other Senators are busy with committee meetings and other tasks; with one roadblocking Senator continually suggesting a quorum's absence on the floor, the full Senate would have to be continually present to vote on every procedural bill and confirm every deputy postmaster to Bumf***, Kentucky and it's work would grind to a standstill. In this way, the threatened "filibuster" is less a brick wall and more of an anchor; not stopping the important bill that is being protested but bringing everything else to a screeching halt.
  • In the United Kingdom, there used to be rotten boroughs that had representatives (2 per borough) in Parliament even though they had a very small population - the district lines hadn't been been changed in centuries, and what were once large population centers were now tiny villages. In some cases, even "tiny village" would be giving the rotten borough too much credit, such as the infamous Old Sarum with a population of just 7 people.note  Frequently, a member of the House of Lords would control a rotten borough and designate sons or friends as the borough's representatives in the House of Commons, thus allowing a Lord to effectively have votes in both Houses, in direct contradiction of the very purpose of the House of Commons. It was very difficult to get rid of them because it required an act of Parliament to redraw the district lines. This is why the U.S. constitution requires that a census be taken every ten years.
  • By law, for an MP to sit in the British House of Commons they must swear a specifically worded oath of allegiance to the reigning British monarch. There is however, no law that says a republican MP taking the oath can't add on their own extra words at the beginning or end which would effectively negate the oath.
    • Labour MP Dennis Skinner is particularly well known for doing this. For years after swearing "I... do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth", he would add "when she pays income tax" - the Queen did not pay income tax until the 1990s.
      • In more recent years he has added "and all who sail on her" implying that he was swearing allegiance to the ship Queen Elizabeth and not the British monarch.
    • Tony Benn added " "As a committed republican, under protest, I take the oath required of me by law, under the Parliamentary Oaths Act of 1866, to allow me to represent my constituency … " at the beginning.
  • That said, the mandatory census and regular redrawing of voting districts just results in a new flavor of abuse, Gerrymandering (CGP Grey provides a good, short explanation).
  • The Westboro Baptist Church go around protesting funerals for gay people ("Matthew Shepard In Hell" for example) or funerals for military soldiers. But, their protests are all held in public places, and not within the funeral properties themselves, so if they get sued they can win on grounds that right to their free speech is being stepped on, which it technically is. Additionally, they only scream insults while they are protesting, specifically. If you actually walk up to Fred Phelps or his family while they're out on the street, they're known to answer you very politely and respectfully (although the politeness comes with a lot of anti-gay enthusiasm, as shown by a BBC reporter that once did a documentary on them). That means if their insults during protests get to you and you punch them in the face, they have legal grounds to sue you for assault.
    • In fact, there's a theory saying the WBC is merely a money-making scheme: everything the WBC does is (barely) legal, but incredibly offensive, so that people will attack the Phelps family (the majority of which are lawyers) and they can sue for damages.
    • The loophole works both ways. Ain't no rule that in a public place, people can't put themselves between Westboro and their targets.
    • Ain't nor rule that says that Hell's Angels can't show up at funerals the WBC is protesting and stare at them very threateningly without saying anything.
    • Nor does anything protect them from the general public labeling them as a Hate Group, which means they can be criminally charged for their antics.
  • In 2004, the Federal Trade Commission implemented the National Do-Not-Call Registry, which allows Americans to limit the number of telemarketing calls made to them. However, phone surveyors are one group exempt from this rule, allowing groups like the Christian non-profit organization The Dove Foundation — known for the "family-approved" seal it puts on movies appropriate for family audiences (and not to be confused with the brand of soap made by Unilever) — to do phone surveys and ask for a follow-up call afterwards from their for-profit partner Feature Films for Families, where they try to sell movies to them. That way, they are able to skirt the Do-Not-Call rule. The State of Missouri sued Dove for US$70,000 in 2006 for violating their laws.
    • Likewise, the "Do Not Call" list also doesn't apply to political campaigns, so every two years people complain about getting robocallers late at night or very early morning. This is especially bad every presidential campaign, peaking in 2008/2012 where people reported having getting so many calls at the worst times (Especially around when they're eating dinner) that people reportedly unplugged all the phones in their house so they could get a good night's sleep for once.
  • In politics, those who hold an executive office are often given the power to selectively veto only parts of a bill without vetoing the whole thing. This has been often used to veto individual words or sentences to Quote Mine a bill and create a different bill, for example by deleting the word "not" to completely reverse the meaning.
    • Wisconsin governors are particularly infamous for doing this - former governor Tommy Thompson was known for deleting individual letters and digits, which came to be known as the "Vanna White veto". The Wisconsin legislature has since managed to create two Obvious Rule Patches which disallow the governor from using the veto to delete letters within a word or splice together multiple sentences, but to this day, the governor of Wisconsin can still delete individual words in a sentence.
    • The United States Congress once tried to give the President this power, but the power, known as the line-item veto, was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
  • Boise, Idaho has (or had) a law forbidding public nudity unless it has "serious artistic merit". A strip bar attempted to circumvent it by issuing pencils and paper to the clients.
  • Homeowners' associations are a special case: because they're considered private, voluntary organizations, they're free to make their own (often quite restrictive) rules compared to the rules regarding public property or public-serving places (e.g. restaurants, etc.) ...but these too become subject to loophole abuse, and are notorious for being exploited by vindictive or Jerk Ass Rules Lawyer property owners.
  • There are many cases in which an action is illegal by law, or a government agency is required by law to do something, but there is no recourse or penalty for violating said law, resulting in the law freely being broken for lack of consequences.
    • A specific example recurs in Washington State, where the state legislature is required, by the state constitution, to fully fund public education as its top priority; however, no one, not even the state Supreme Court, has the power (or any means by which) to force it to actually do that.
    • Likewise, a similar case exists within Congress, which is legally required to pass a budget each year (not just "continuing resolutions" which are, in effect, "keep doing it as we did last year" legislation). However, as it is not specified exactly what a "budget" law is, and that no penalty for failure to do so is stipulated, the last several years the Senate has been abusing this loophole gratuitously.
    • In a particularly interesting case, the US law making it illegal for minors to view pornography on the Internet was ruled illegal to enforce the instant it was passed.
  • More legal Loophole Abuse, Wal-Mart. While this practice is hardly unique to Wal-Mart, they just happen to be the most well-known example of it. The practice in question are to skirting around labour laws.
    • "Wal-Mart full time":
      • In North America, 40 hours is considered full-time legally. They claim to be hiring you for a "full-time" position, and then make you work 36-39 hours a week. Enough to feel like a full time (which actually is full-time in parts of the world, see below) but legally, you are still considered part-time and therefore you are not entitled to any benefits. A lot of Wal-Mart employees are actually eligible for food-stamps and other such public services because they don't hire anyone full-time unless they're a manager or higher-up. This is becoming harder as the US Federal Government is now specifying anything of 30 hours or more as a "Full Time Equivalent" position, particularly in regards to the Affordable Care Act (i.e. "ObamaCare") and slowly updating the rest of the labor laws for consistency. Still, working 29 hours is becoming the new Loophole Abuse.
      • They can't do this as much, since 35-38 hours actually would be full-time in much of Europe: in Britain 37.5 hours a week is generally seen as the default, and 35 hours in France. However the main distinction on this side of the channel in terms of rights is between permanent and temporary workers - Ain't No Rule against relieving temps for no reason (especially just before three months are up and EU law specifies they get the same rights as permanent workers), or making as many jobs as possible temporary, to skirt around workers rights.
    • Ain't No Rule against bumping people who worked legal-full time down to "Wal-Mart full time" after they worked at the store long enough to qualify for more benefits.
    • This has happened to other firms and not just Wal-Mart. Depending on where in North America you live, if you work for four hours, you are required to be given a 15 minute break. Many businesses also use a computer system that keeps track of this. However, there Ain't No Rule against the manager telling you to clock out and then clock back in so the computer doesn't record them of being on the clock more than four hours at a time and saying they need to take a break. There also Ain't No Rule against giving you split shifts; but to be fair, many businesses do split shifts so that the "Break" is actually an hour or more and you aren't paid.
      • Or a shift 6 hours and 45 minutes long to avoid union rules that a 7-hour shift gets a half-hour break.
    • There's all sorts of Loophole Abuse surrounding overtime...
    • In a "Right to Work" state, you can be fired for pretty much whatever reason and it will pretty much never be questioned by courts. Even though some of these states may have laws saying you cannot be fired if you are part of a union or are gay, people do it anyway. Ain't No Rule saying you have to SAY you fired someone because you suspect they're gay or because they're part of a union.
  • Another common Loophole Abuse that is pretty widespread, but Wal-Mart is notorious for, a practice called "constructive discharge." Most companies would rather have inexperienced and cheaper workers instead of skilled, and more expensive ones. If an employee is fired, they're entitled to unemployment benefits. However, if the company wants to avoid paying you, they decide to make your life miserable through manipulation of the rules that you will be forced to quit.
    • This wouldn't work in the UK as "constructive dismissal" is a legitimate reason to take your employer to an industrial tribunal so trying this would be risky for the employer.
    • It can also be risky in the US if the targeted employee is a member of a protected class (which, for better or for worse, is very frequently the case), as they can easily file a complaint with the EEOC alleging discrimination if that occurs; while that alone has so-so chances of turning anything up, any further negative action taken by the employer can be construed as retaliation, and that frequently does result in successful claims with outcomes that favor the employee.
  • If you are hired as a waiter or waitress in America, legally you're allowed to have a paycheck below minimum wage. However, the loophole is that you must be able to make up the difference in tips. This hasn't stopped some places from hiring everyone as a waiter simply so they could get away with paying them $2.50 an hour...and subsequently getting blacklisted by the working force when word gets out.note 
  • California gun laws stipulate that you cannot have a removable magazine on a firearm with "assault weapon" features, such as pistol grips, collapsible stocks, flash hiders, etc. However, California defines a "removable magazine" as one that can be removed without a tool. To get around this, gun manufacturers made the "bullet button" magazine release. All you have to do is get an unfired round, press it against a tiny button that is flush against some housing so you can't use your finger, and the magazine pops out. This gets around having removable magazines on "assault weapons" because you're technically using a tool to remove the magazine. Inevitably, someone started selling a tool that consisted of a button secured via magnet in place over the bullet button release, effectively turning it into a conventional magazine release despite not being a part of the weapon.
  • British solicitor Nick Freeman has made it a specialty to get his celebrity clients Off on a Technicality. In response the British press has nicknamed him 'Mr. Loophole'. Freeman's response? He had the name trademarked.
    • Among the cases he's won by exploiting loopholes and technicalities? Arguing that a man with nine double-vodkas in his system was sober.
  • In a part of the Holy Roman Empire, peasants were legally obliged to pay their lord a certain percentage of their grain harvest. So when in the 18th century the potato became a new food staple in Germany, the crafty peasants decided to switch from wheat and rye to potatoes so they could keep the entire harvest and resulting profits themselves. The lord tried to get them to pay a portion of the potato harvest, but in vain; the Imperial Court (Reichsgericht) in Wetzlar found that the peasants were in the right. The case is fairly well known in Germany, as one of the officials in charge of the case in Wetzlar was a young Johann Wolfgang Goethe.
  • In most of the United States, prostitution is illegal. You'd think this would put the kibosh on porn movies where paid performers have sex. However, technically pornographers don't pay their actors to have sex; the pay for the right to film the actors having sex, while the sex act itself is something the actors theoretically do of their own accord. Yes, this line of reasoning actually held up in court.
    • Meanwhile, up in Canada, solicitation for prostitution is illegal, but prostitution itself isn't, leading officially recognized loophole abuse: if a prostitute and customer can arrange a sex-for-money deal without either one actually proposing a sex-for-money deal, no crime has been committed.
      • A similar case in the US is for certain high-end escort arrangements. You pay the escort agency for the time you spend with the escort, NOT for any specific action. Sex is at the discretion (and choice) of the escort, though any time having sex is "on the clock" and thus is paid to the agency. The "Girlfriend Experience" concept is explicitly set up to take advantage of this loophole, as sex is not part of the arrangement (but often implicitly assumed).
    • In Israel, while prostitution is legal, organized prostitution (such as brothels and pimping) isn't. So instead, businesses advertise themselves as "massage parlors", usually stating explicitly that they do not offer sex. However, the "masseuses" are still free to offer the client any "extras". This is common wherever such rules are on the books.
    • Thai massage parlors are infamous for prostitution. After sex and oral sex were banned, they moved primarily to handjobs. When a law was passed banning masseuses from touching their clients' genitals with their hands as well, what was the masseuses' response? To begin using their wrists.
    • Strip clubs in various Greek island resorts, (generally the ones where British schoolchildren go for their sixth year holidaysnote ) use a similar scam.
    • If the law banning prostitution does define it as exchanging sex for money, expect at least some prostitute/pimp/brothel to claim that the sex is free and the client is paying for the room.
  • Infamous "director" Uwe Boll routinely abused a former loophole in German tax law that rewards investments in film. The law allowed investors in German-owned films to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction; it also allowed them to invest borrowed money and write off any fees associated with the loan. The investor was then only required to pay taxes on the profits made by the movie; if the movie loses money, the investor would get a tax writeoff.
    Uwe Boll: Maybe you know it but it's not so easy to finance movies in total. And the reason I am able to do these kind of movies is I have a tax shelter fund in Germany, and if you invest in a movie in Germany you get basically fifty percent back from the government.
  • The tax code. There are plenty of loopholes that stop some rich people from paying many taxes.
    • The Alternative Minimum Tax in the U.S. is at least one attempt to patch the tax code to limit this sort of abuse, but the tax rate is still lower than the normal tax rate (it is, after all, a minimum tax), and, well....
    • If it's too difficult to loophole your way out of paying taxes, you can always move your millions to and declare fiscal residence in a different country with lower taxes, while your formerly first, now second but far bigger and more luxurious residence where you also happen to live most of the year is still in your country of birth. Case in point: All the French millionaires "fleeing" to Belgian villages right on the other side of the frontier. Immigration laws don't apply to money!
  • Obscene material was illegal, unless it had artistic value. Plots and music were added in order to be considered artistic. The plot was often that a pizza delivery guy or pool boy visited a housewife while her husband was away. The music often sounded like "Bow Chicka Wow Wow".
  • The Supreme Court upheld Obamacare because of a loophole. Congress didn't want to be accused of "raising taxes", so the charge for going uninsured was called a "penalty" under commerce clause powers. The Court held political labels didn't matter and it was a constitutional tax.
  • In several cases regarding Guantanamo Bay, the US Supreme Court ruled that the base is technically part of the United States (though they didn't clarify what exactly its status is), and therefore the inmates are entitled the protections of the constitution. The Bush administration simply ignored these decisions, arguing that Guantanamo Bay is not part of the USA, and so therefore the Supreme Court has no authority to rule on whether it is or not!
  • Blueseed reckon that if current U.S. visa laws are too strict for start-ups, you should just build a workplace in international waters. This way, you can still make money, and just use a tourist visa when you have business in Silicon Valley or San Francisco. As long as you earn your paycheck on Blueseed's vessel and not on the mainland, you don't violate your visa. Except that this particular loophole is already quite hard to abuse, and the Blueseed folks haven't tried it out to see if it works.
  • Vladimir Putin was re-elected for a third presidential term after a four year gap when he served as Prime Minister. The Russian Constitution imposes a limit on consecutive terms (no more than two), but says nothing about a limit on lifetime terms...
    • The American Presidency had been like this for a long time, as well - there was no rule stating a candidate couldn't run for a third term as President, but nearly everyone who won a second term stepped down of their own accord after it, in remembrance of George Washington doing the same. The first and only President to break this was Franklin D. Roosevelt, due to what was going on at the time, serving three terms and winning a fourth before dying of a stroke, which lead to the 22nd Amendment forcing a two-term-per-President limit starting from 1951.
    • There's still no rule that an American President who only serves one term can't run for re-election after the next President's term ends, but so far Grover Cleveland is the only one who bothered to try and actually won, hence he is the only President to have chronologically served as the head of two separate Presidencies (the 22nd and 24th).
    • The maximum length of a Presidency is supposed to be eight years (two four-year terms as above), but it's still possible for someone to serve as President for longer than that - if a President steps down, dies, or is otherwise removed from office in the middle of his term, his Vice President serves out the remainder of it. If this happens more than halfway through the term, it does not legally count as a full term for the new President, and he can go on to be (re)elected for another two full terms after finishing the current one (essentially 10 years minus a day).
    • At the turn of the 20th century, the law in Atlantic County, NJ declared that the same man couldn't succeed himself as Sheriff. Smith Johnson served as Sheriff, and when his time was up, became under-Sheriff. Then he became Sheriff again, since he wasn't technically succeeding himself. He kept doing this until his retirement more than 20 years later, upon which his son Enoch of Boardwalk Empire fame, who had been acting as under-Sheriff for his father, succeed him as Sheriff.
  • There ain't no rule that you can't patent the rectangle-with-rounded-edges shape for tablets - as Apple did. Now Apple is busily trying to steamroll Samsung out of the market by accusing them of copying Apple's tablets - and they're partially successful in that they managed to get Samsung products banned in at least two major countries.
    • Patent trolls operate under this trope. There ain't no rule stating that you have to actually use patents you own instead of buying them by the hundreds and living off the license fees extorted with threats of legal action.
      • In this regard, Germany's patent laws are the worst: you have to go medieval on everyone potentially infringing on a patent you own because if you don't, said patent will become null and void.
    • Trademark laws function similarly, however you can have the trademark revoked if you are not actively using them within a certain amount of time. What constitutes active usage, however, is another matter entirely...
    • Film rights are also subject to this treatment. A studio might buy film rights to a popular entertainment product with the stipulation that if they're not exercised, they revert to the original owner. But nothing says that "exercising" them can't be defined as a movie made for $500 and the cost of lunch, never intended to see the light of day, specifically in order to hold on to the rights.
  • Hungarian copyright law cannot technically punish people downloading copyrighted stuff from the internet because of two loopholes in the local laws:
    • All data storage devices sold in stores have copyright royalties included in the price and thus these users have already paid for whatever copyrighted content they might store on them (similar legislation has been proposed in several other countries as well).
    • Making a copy for personal use isn't illegal by itself. But no, there ain't no rule about needing to own the original first.
    • Bottom line: acquisition itself isn't illegal, only distribution. Restricting filesharing activity to downloading only makes anyone able to slip away with downloading terabytes of porn without repercussions as long as they don't give a single byte of it to anyone elsenote . Is it any wonder Hollywood enforces a mandatory delay with movie premieres in the country?
    • A potential but still present loophole can also be spotted: local copyright enforcement agency Artisjus has complete monopoly on the distribution of collected royalties and no governmental control over their activities whatsoever. You can see where this is going: they alone decide how much royalty is collected and how much of it actually goes to the copyright holders. There is no way to know whether they've actually exploited this yet, however.
  • Hungary in particular has a history of this. Especially the late 19th century saw the national figureheads abusing every single loophole in the laws to avoid paying taxes or participating in politics as a protest against Austrian rule, a form of civil disobedience they dubbed "passive resistance".
  • Pick-up trucks and three wheeled cars were made originally so that car makers didn't have to follow regulations made for standard four wheeled cars, and some of them only became popular (such as the Reliant Robin, which is best known for having three wheels and tipping over at the slightest turn) because a person driving them didn't need to pay car taxes and only needed a cheaper motorcycle license to drive one.
    • The tiny "kei car" class of cars sold in Japan originated during post-World War 2 times to allow Japanese citizens to buy a car at a price they would normally pay for a motorcycle, and are still valuable today thanks to being taxed less in addition to their excellent fuel economy. These, too, were also exempt from emissions and safety tests until a few decades later.
    • The electric REV Ai or G-wiz which is better know was similar to the kei car, being so small and underpowered it was legally a "heavy quadbike," allowing it to dodge safety regulations. However, these are not as well liked as the kei car do to the many issues with the car.
  • Thanks to France and West Germany imposing a tariff on U.S. chicken imports during the 1960s, a 25 percent tariff on foreign imports of potato starch, brandy, dextrin, and light trucks was imposed in the U.S., hurting sales of the latter. However, many companies got around this by removing the truck bed and exporting it separately with the cab (though this part would be closed around 1980) or converting it to a "passenger vehicle". The light truck part of the Chicken Tax still remains to this very day.
    • In the 1980s, Subaru imported the coupe utility version of the Leone called the BRAT by installing two detachable seats and carpeting in the bed so the vehicle can be classified as a "passenger vehicle". More recently, Ford only imports the passenger version of the Transit Connect van from Europe to North America. For cargo models, the rear seats, rear seat belts, and rear glass are removed when the vehicle arrives in America. The conversion process costs Ford several hundred dollars per van but saves thousands compared to paying the Chicken Tax. Similar to Ford, Chrysler intends to build its upcoming Ram ProMaster City, an Americanized version of the Fiat Doblo van, in Turkey, importing only passenger vans and converting them into cargo vans after clearing customs.
    • Another method of circumventing the Chicken Tax is to import light trucks in knockdown formnote . For example, components for North American Mercedes-Benz/Freightliner Sprinter cargo vans are made and partially assembled in Germany, and the unfinished vehicle is shipped to South Carolina for final assembly.
    • Due to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), light trucks assembled either in Mexico or Canada since 1994 are not subject the 25% import tariff. The Detroit Three uses the exemption to build some of their heavy duty pickups and commercial vans in Mexico.
  • When Hugh Capet was made King of the Franks/France, he soon discovered a problem: his descendants might have more than one son. Normally, this is seen as a good thing, especially for kings, but ancient Frankish law required partible inheritance: that is, when the father died, his land and other property was divided equally among his sons. This can be pretty annoying when your land is a large estate—within a few generations, there's nothing large about the estate—but his land was the Crown Lands of France.Highly technical note  Capet wanted to begin centralizing the authority of the Crown, but that would mean nothing if the kingdom kept being sub-divided (as had happened to his predecessor Charlemagne's empire about 150 years earlier). He needed a way out... and he found it in an equally-ancient Frankish custom, allowing the King to appoint a junior co-King to manage affairs he couldn't/didn't care to handle. Capet appointed his son Robert to be co-king, so that when Hugh died, the kingdom stayed intact—after all, only one king had died, and the other one was still alive! Robert did the same thing with his son Henry, who did the same with his son Philip, who did the same with his son Louis, who did it with his son Louis, who did the same with his son Philip...and at that point the rule of primogeniture was so firmly entrenched that they didn't need to engage in this custom. France wouldn't be fully centralized for centuries to come... but Hugh Capet must have been laughing with delight from beyond the grave.
    • There were attempts to implement these in the Visigothic Kingdom, but they didn't fly. See bellow.
  • Belgium is a constitutional monarchy: The king is the legal Head of State, but he has no say in what laws are passed. At the same time, however, a law is only effective after the king signs (or rubber-stamps) it. In 1990, when the Belgian parliament approved the liberalization of abortion in the country, King Baudoin I manifested that he didn't want to sign the bill because of his religious beliefs; instead, he asked the government to declare him "temporarily unable" to reign, in which case the Belgian constitution provides that the government acts as de facto head of state - and can therefore sign the bills itself. The law was passed, and the next day the government declared Baudoin capable again. This rigamarole attracted a great deal of derision in both Belgian society and abroad; when King Juan Carlos I of Spain was asked fifteen years later if he might pull something similar respecting the bill legalizing gay marriage in Spain, he simply replied, "Soy el Rey de España y no el de Bélgica." ("I am the King of Spain, not of Belgium.")
    • This is also the way some governors in US states work: They don't want to sign a bill that has passed through the state legislature, but they also don't want to veto it and kill the bill. So instead, they let it "lapse into law": after a certain amount of time without action, the bill is automatically passed as if the governor had signed it, even though they did not. The President has this power, as well, although it is conditioned on when he refuses/neglects to sign or veto; if Congress is still in session after ten days (minus Sundays), the bill becomes law, but if Congress is adjourned on the tenth day then the bill is "pocket vetoed" and does not become law. The latter is more common than the former, since Congress adjourns a lot.
  • Similarly, the Netherlands is also a constitutional monarchy. However, all the official laws always refer to the monarch as "the King" with a separate law stating that in the case of a female monarch these laws apply to "the Queen". This isn't a problem when the monarch is male, but if the monarch is female her husband would technically outrank her as he would be "the King". As a result the husbands of Dutch queens are officially known as "Prince of the Netherlands" to avoid this particular legal issue.
  • Pyramid schemes, a scheme where people pay money to get in the pyramid, and they get a portion of of the money for anybody else they convinced to join in the scheme, is illegal because basic mathematics shows it is unsustainable growth (if the scheme starts with six people, by the 13th level it would contain 13 BILLION if the growth was consistent, more than the Earth's population). Multi-Level Marketing companies skirts around these laws by offering products, and makes each of the people "sellers," or "business owners".
  • Many laws are vulnerable to abuse by assuming standard temporal causality, however the US Constitution contains a rather glaring example where it limits the office of the Presidency to only natural born citizens or those citizens of the 13 colonies at the time the constitution was adopted. When Arnold Schwarzenegger presents evidence that Skynet sent him back in time to the 1700's he will in fact be eligible to run for President.
    • The US Constitution also states that all congressional legislators "shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony, and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their attendance at the Session of their Respective Houses, and in going to and from the same." The latter part of the clause has the effect of making Senators and Representatives immune from traffic citations while they are traveling to or from a congressional session as such violations are neither felonies nor a breach of the peace. Considering the intent is to prevent a member of Congress from getting something passed by having all the opponents detained, however, this isn't exactly a loophole.
    • In 2007, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) famously tried to avoid being charged for soliciting sex in an airport bathroom by pointing out he was waiting for a plane that was heading to DC, and then invoking this rule.
  • Horrifying combo of this, Exact Words, and Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: In the documentary Slavery By Another Name, African-Americans in the Deep South were forced into servitude for decades after the passing of the Emancipation Proclamation under the guise of prison labor (in mines that happened to be owned by ex-slave owners) or being forced pay "debts" that never existed. The worst part was that while "slaves were an investment prisoners were disposable".
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's infamous "Big Gulp Ban"note , which prohibited the sale of sugary drinks, bottled or fountain, exceeding 16 fluid ounces (473 mL) by restaurants and other food service establishments, was overturned by a New York State Supreme Court judge on the day before the ban was to go into effect. The law was riddled with so many confusing and contradictory loopholes and exemptions, it was considered unenforceable.
    • Grocery and convenience stores were not covered the ban, since they are regulated by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, not the New York City Department of Health.
    • Alcoholic beverages were exempt from the ban. Dairy beverages which contain at least 50% milk or another dairy product were also exempt from the ban.
    • Limits on drink purchases and fountain refills were left to the discretion of the individual food service operator, meaning the consumer could easily defeat the ban's intent if the operator had no such restriction.
  • The Isdal Woman case, which was filled with so many intentional dead ends (appearing to be set up by the Isdal woman herself), the police declared it a suicide (even though everything about the crime screamed murder) so the police would not have to investigate such an impossible case anymore.
  • The Mongols had rules against spilling noble blood over the ground. Thus, they found creative ways to kill nobles that didn't spill blood over the ground:
    • Jamukha, former childhood friend of Genghis Khan turned rival for the title of Khan of all Mongols, was bent backwards until his backbone snapped.
    • Inalchuq, the governor of Otrar and an uncle of the Shah of Khwarezm, was killed by pouring molten silver in his eyes and ears. Sounds familiar?
    • Mstislav III of Kiev and other 'Rus nobles were put under wooden planks and suffocated while the Mongol generals dinned on top of them.
    • Al-Mustasim, the last Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad, was rolled up in a rug and trampled to death by the Mongol cavalry. But no blood touched the ground!
  • Of 35 Visigothic kings between 395 and 720, 11 were murdered by their successors. The Visigoths had an Elective Monarchy and Gothic law said that a new king should be elected immediately in the same place where the previous one had died. But what man is closer to the place where a king dies than the man stabbing the king on the back?
  • The State of Emergency (which might or might not declare Martial Law) is an universal loophole under which a country can suspend certain rights if it is deemed necessary to ensure the very survival of the country. Most of the time it is meant to last for some months to a year, but if extended (thus becoming a double loophole) it can come to uphold a plain dictatorship.
    • This is how Those Wacky Nazis ruled on paper, so they didn't ever need to abolish the German Republic. Through his whole 12-years run, Adolf Hitler issued nothing but "emergency" decrees. This came to bite the Nazis in the arse after the war, because as the Nuremberg courts noted, not even those emergency decrees had ever legalized murder, thievery, and all those other things the Nazis enthusiastically engaged in so much.
    • The State of Emergency proclaimed in Egypt during the Arab-Israeli War in 1967 lasted until 2012 with only a 18 months long break in 1980-1981. It was reinstated in January 2013.
    • Israel itself has been in a State of Emergency since 1948, which is re-extended by the Knesset every year. Israel has not been on emergency for a grand total of one week during its existence: May 14 to May 21 of that year.
    • The Malayan Emergency of 1948 to 1960 was, for all intents and purposes, a guerrilla war against communist insurgents. The name, however, was used at the insistence of the owners of rubber plantations and tin mines because if it had been called a "war" they would not have been insured by Lloyd's of London from damages.
  • When a European court challenged Microsoft to offer an alternative version of Windows which did not include Internet Explorer, Microsoft gave them such a version.. which crashed immediately on boot, claiming a missing DLL file. When the court objected that Microsoft should not be allowed to provide a version of Windows that did not work, Microsoft contended that it did work - since this was the intended behaviour of the program if that file was missing.
  • Possibly the most universal legal Loophole Abuse is the "one dollar less than the retainer" trick, where a company threatens to sue another unless they agree to settle out of court for a relatively small amount of money or profit share. The threatened company may feel obliged to pay because if a suit is filed - even a baseless one - the time and money required to contest the suit in court could easily cost much more or even destroy the business. Meanwhile, the threatening business is quite safe, since they are under no obligation to actually proceed with the threatened lawsuit if the target calls their bluff. In this way it is possible for a company or individual to make a business model out of claiming for damages for a case which has no legal validity at all.
  • In July 2013, the NY Times broke a story about Goldman-Sachs hoarding and manipulating the prices on the Aluminum marketnote . This led to the warehouses they owned slowing outflow to a crawl, going from an expected turn-around time of 6 weeks to 16 months over the course of 2 years. However, the London Metal Exchange has a regulation stating that warehouses need to move a certain amount of product each day. Goldman's solution? Move the product from one warehouse they own to another in one of the biggest shell-games in recent history.
  • If someone wants to report a news story that can't legally be released in their own country, they can just sell the story to a news source in another country and it will be published online where everyone in their country can see it anyway.
  • Prisons have a ban on drugs, especially alcohol, forcing inmates to tough it out although drug-programs are common to deal with this while those on medication have theirs mentioned. Despite the ban on alcohol, the materials to make a kind of drink known as Pruno are mandatory because of the nutritional needs of the inmates.
    • You heard right. Fruits, potatoes, sugar, milk and breads are commonly used to make the alcohol thanks to concoction via running hot water and concealing with a towel during the fermentation process. Prison guards often seized any amount found and tried to limited fresh fruits but that hasn’t stop inmates from getting creative and found alternatives.
    • A related loophole concerns drug rehab programs. Many states have a blanket offer to inmates of time off their sentences by finishing a drug treatment program. This led some inmates who had never taken drugs to enter the program for time off their sentences.
  • Many school systems across America often exploit this thanks to how the First Amendment of the United States is written when ever students complain about their freedom of expression is violated. Keep in mind, within the school system… off school grounds like a local newspapers or cyberspace, the students gets the last say thanks it just as long no threats are being made.
    • This is due to the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which also protects property owners, since a student's social media account is classified as property.
    The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
    • If the student complain about a teacher and just expresses their feelings without personal threats of violence, they're safe if they do it social sites like Facebook or Twitter. Sure, in trouble with the school... yes, but the law... no. However, cyber-bullying does fall under the threat of violence, which the law can intervene.
    • Back to the students’ issue, there’s one flaw with being protected under the First Amendment… defamation lawsuits are also protected.
  • Lawmakers in Pennsylvania try to clamp down on synthetic drug makers after they managed to find loopholes in drug laws, like labeling their products “Not for Human Consumption”. It such comes as no surprise that law enforcements in other US states have caught on thanks to “legal” alternatives, like Salvia divinorum and spice… synthetic cannabis since it looks like the spice used in cooking.
    • Some students in Oklahoma were maybe to get around the drug policy at their school by opting for a digital form for their MP3 player known as I-Dose… yes, a digital replacement that doesn’t show up on a drug test yet give the same effects without using the “real thing”. The school tried to stop this banning MP3 Players usage in schools.
  • In the United States, for a beverage to be declared non-alcoholic it must contain .5 percent alcohol by volume or less. Due to this, in some US States, like Texas, products with this declaration included light beer can be legally sold to minors. In theory, parents in Texas can allow their teenagers to drink beer without criminal charges just as long its non-alcoholic.
    • In fact, while it’s still illegal for a minor to buy one that’s over .5 percent alcohol by volume, in some US states there’s no law saying it’s illegal for minors to drink it, in 31 states like Wisconsin just as long an adult is present. The law also excuses the drinking law if such beverage has to do with religious grounds, medical explanation, employment requirement and private club possession. Minors in Illinois are allowed to drink alcohol if they're taking part in culinary classes where such drink in used.
    • Ethanol, which it pure alcohol, is still legal to buy over the counter since it’s commonly used to clean an area before blood work as has to be done, and yes it hurts like hell if it makes contact with an open wound. However, too much of it, like in a bath, can be deadly if done poorly.
    • Speaking of the medicine, it’s still legal to have some alcohol in it, same with oral products as well as hair care. Cough medicine can be legally sold over the counter that until meth cookers begin to use it, forcing stricter enforcement like limiting how much one can have. This is also due to the creation of Purple drank, cough medicine and soda mix… you can guess the outcome.
    • Though no longer on a federal level, to be fair Alaska wasn’t a US State at the time, alcohol is still banned in many Native America, including Eskimo communities. For those who watch Alaska State Troopers, some have tried to get around this since it’s legal in nearby cities like Anchorage, Fairbanks or Juneau and some have tried to disguise it as apple juice or drink products containing the substance.
  • When it comes to CCTV cameras in school systems, many were able to get around the federal surveillance laws and were able to go with installation without parental permission because of wiretap laws. Under this, audio surveillance requires permission from a third party in locations where individuals possess a "reasonable expectation of privacy". However, outside of the school, hallways and cafeteria are considered public; therefore cameras are okay just as long the audio is muted. If a principal wants to conduct audio surveillance due to a serious criminal act in the school, he or she will still have to comply with Fourth Amendment and obtain permission.
    • This can also explain why a student with a camera can film inside of the classroom if they get the okay from fellow classmates, through it depends on the teacher should audio be included.
    • Keep in mind, states has different laws regarding on what count as a third party, usually parents and/or guardians because those underage note .
    • Many businesses can employ CCTV of their own for protection, mostly against shoplifters and thieves, but they just have to warn customers about the surveillance by posting them where they can be seen. This counts as permission from a third party, thus complying with the law.
    • In 2012, Stuart Chaifetz, a parent in New Jersey, who has an autistic son, discovered the anti-bullying wasn't being enforced after seeing his son suffered in the hands of a teacher. While teachers are forbidden to physical harm due to a law banning corporal punishment, they obviously found a loophole verbal harm. Chaifetz had his son wiretapped and gather the information. Chaifetz was allowed to do this under federal law because it was his son, he knew he was wiretapped and his consent. When Chaifetz got the evidence he needed, the aide involved was fired and the teacher was suspended.
  • In 1285 under the reign of Edward I, a law was passed which resulted in the execution of a violator. His crime… was burning coal, which was banned due to concerns about air pollution. That's right, medieval London knew about air pollution, but there wasn’t a rule against wood-burning. (Of course, if you couldn't burn coal or wood in those days, you couldn't burn much else, and you needed to keep the fire going somehow.)
  • In 2010, it was ruled that taking photos up the skirts of women was legal. One man was caught taking cell phone photos up women's skirts, and after taking a photo up the skirt of an off-duty police officer, he was busted. But rather than getting fined, sued, or labeled as a sex offender, he argued that it was legal because the women weren't in partial nudity. They were fully dressed.
    • This happened in Massachusetts in March 2014. A man convicted under "Peeping Tom" laws for taking up-skirt photos of non-consenting on public transit won his appeal because the law only forbade taking nude or semi-nude pictures. There was so much outrage that the state legislature closed the loophole just two days later (which is what the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, which had decided the case, had recommended in its opinion).
  • After running into trouble with the FCC, New York pirate radio operator Allen Weiner started trying to exploit loopholes in broadcasting regulations in the 1980s. After buying a couple of legal stations in Maine, he got a license for a remote broadcast unit for the stations. But instead of using it to feed audio to the stations in Maine, he set it up in Yonkers, New York and used it to broadcast to the general public. The FCC said that was a violation of the license and yanked Weiner's license for the remote unit and the stations in Maine. Taking a cue from the British pirate stations of the 1960s, Weiner and others concocted a plan to broadcast from a boat anchored a few miles off the coast, technically in international waters, which they claimed would be out of the jurisdiction of the FCC. The station, RNI (Radio Newyork International), debuted with great fanfare, but the FCC disagreed with their interpretation of the law and enlisted the Coast Guard to raid the ship after a few days. Eventually the FCC gave in and gave Weiner a license for his shortwave station WBCQ.
  • Ancient Roman law had quite a few of these, but an interesting one has to do with the place of Gaius Julius Caesar's assassination. You see, he was assassinated (for irony purposes) in the Theatre of Pompey at the feet of the statue of Pompey, his ally-turned-enemy whom he had fought in the civil war a few years earlier. The reason he went to the theatre in the first place was that there was a Senate meeting there that day; the Senate was meeting at the theatre because it was roomier than the usual Senate house (or something like that). The Senate, however, was required to meet at places of religious significance, which of course an ordinary theatre was not. So how could they meet there? Simple: Loophole abuse. Many theatres were designated temples in order to get around moral laws to prevent the construction of theatres. Yes, we know.
  • The French parliament banned Amazon.com from free shipping due to complaints from local stores. Amazon responded by charging one cent for shipping orders that met the free shipping requirement.
  • Trial by jury was designed to grant the accused the right to be judged by his peers and require the government to prove to his peers that he is guilty. However, juries can also use their power to acquit people of breaking laws the jury doesn't agree with, regardless of the evidence.
  • In 1910, Portugal had a revolution: the monarchy was abolished and a republic was declared under a provisional government. The next year, elections to a Constituent Assembly, i.e. to draw up a new constitution, were called. Only "heads of household" - presumably male - were allowed to vote. However, due to a twitch in the Portuguese Language, which uses the male gender for situations where there are only men or where there are both men and women, Carolina Beatriz Ângelo, being a widow, qualified as a "head of household" and thus as a voter, hence becoming the first woman to vote in Portugal and indeed Southern Europe.
  • Liquor sales in Pennsylvania are a state-run monopoly, meaning that grocery stores can't stock alcohol except for cooking, disinfectants, and the like. Some supermarket chains such as Wegmans sidestep this law by converting portions of their stores into restaurants, getting them licensed to serve beer to restaurant patrons, then declaring their six-packs to be "takeout" beverages.
  • In the United States, one of the requirements to serving as a Senator is being 30 years or older upon entering office. Joe Biden was shy of 30 when he was first elected Senator of Delaware in 1972, turning 30 between Election Day and when he was sworn-in.
  • In Hong Kong, a group of farmers displeased that their private land is turned into a nature reserve decided to cut down the mangrove trees in the area in spite; turns out that while contruction is banned without approval, simply destroying the ecosystem without any plan to actually do anything on it does not violate the law. An Obvious Rule Patch has been suggested, just don't expect it any time soon.

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