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Loophole Abuse / Real Life Law

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Examples of Loophole Abuse within real-life legal systems are so numerous we had to split it off into its own separate page.

See also a sports-specific page and the one for general real-life examples.

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  • 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"?
  • 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.
  • 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!)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 offenses consecutively, ending up with a prison sentence the defendant 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 them to serve them consecutively, ending up with a sentence of over one hundred years, meaning that they 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.
    • Averted in Portugal (which has no kind of life or death penalty, and the maximum is 25 years for any individual penalty), which has the so-called cúmulo jurídico das penas, by which the total sum of consecutive penalties is capped at 25 years.
    • Ecuador has the same loophole. Infamously, this led to the release of Pedro Lopez, one of the most prolific serial killers ever recorded, after only 14 years.
    • A Thailand woman named Chamoy Thipyaso, who ran a pyramid scheme that contained over 16 thousand people, got sentenced to 141,675 years in prison, but the law stated that a person sentenced to fraud for up to 20 years, and she only served 8.
  • In some countries, naturalization protocol can be bypassed, either via executive order, as a matter of national security, via investment in a large swath of property, or in the event that a candidate for citizenship has the potential to bring prestige to the receiving nation (such as an athlete or doctor). Another possible bypass in some countries (with the US a notable example) applies to children under 18 if they are adopted by a citizen of the country, or if one or both parents become citizens while the child is a minor; in those cases, the child becomes a citizen by operation of law.
  • 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.
  • If a law banning prostitution defines 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.
  • 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. It's even worse because patents can be so incredibly vague that proving you're not infringing on one can be just as expensive (not to mention time consuming), even if, in common-sense terms, the troll doesn't have a leg to stand on. Either you pay the troll, or you pay your patent lawyer.
    • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Trial by jury was designed to grant the accused the right to be judged by their peers and require the government to prove to their peers that they are guilty. However, juries can also use their power to acquit people of breaking laws the jury doesn't agree with, regardless of the evidence.
  • Despite there being no actual law against the sale of military rations in most countries (even though they say "Not for resale"), how resellers of rations get around this is they wait a while for the rations to go out of circulation or they're extra leftovers and sell them off as military surplus goods, which is legal.
  • Proprietary software licenses are explicitly designed to get around the doctrine of first sale. According to this doctrine, you can do anything you want with the copy you've paid for, except for making copies and distributing them (right reserved to copyright owners, but beyond this point of first sale, copyright owners cannot control copies legally made, which is why selling used books is legal). Software licenses make it clear that you're buying a "license" to use the software, not a copy. The software belongs to the company, and the license (a private contract) places additional restrictions that the copyright law doesn't.
  • Have you ever wondered why you see ads on the internet or TV which present multiple-choice questions a ten-year old could answer and promise you great prizes if you get it right? Well, you don't win the prize right away but this is a step to be entered for a chance to win the prize via drawing lots. In many countries the laws and regulations concerning lottery draws and similar events where winning is purely up to chance are considerably stricter than those regarding quizzes and similar competitions. You just need to add one quiz-style question as a step for people entering the draw and it qualifies as the latter. It doesn't matter whether the question is so easy that to not know the answer you would have to have to be a Martian.
  • The so-called "Sharing Economy" is the embodiment of Loophole Abuse. Uber and Lyft are effectively cab companies that outsource all of their labor to "contractors" which sidesteps the regulations that normal taxi companies have to follow. Airbnb is effectively a hotel service, but it does not have to follow many of the regulations that real hotels have to follow, such as anti-discrimination laws or fire codes.
  • Cruise ships, and ocean liners back in the day, pull this all the time. Ships follow the maritime laws of the country they are flagged to, while in international waters, not the country they depart from (like airplanes). Thus it's entirely legal to have ships with casinos to pick up passengers in a non-gambling country and then move to either waters where it is legal or to international waters. Similarly, some ships opt to flag in countries with low drinking ages to entice minors to book their cruises (or have their parents book with them) just to drink legally.
  • The legal case between Odyssey Marine Exploration and the Spanish government for the ownership of the sunken Spanish frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes was plagued by successful and unsuccessful instances of Loophole Abuse:
    • The root of the issue is that unlike in America, all archaeological finds in Spain belong to the Spanish government, regardless of who finds them or who owns the land they are in. Since Odyssey was aware of this, it searched in international waters just outside Spanish national waters, which are known to be littered with shipwrecks, when it came across the wreck of Las Mercedes, sunk at the Battle of Cape Santa María in 1804, and proceeded to take its contents to Gibraltar before flying them to the United States.
    • Under maritime law, sunken ships are considered abandoned and their cargo belongs to whoever takes it... except in the case of military vessels, which are considered cemeteries and remain, along with everything in them, the property of the country they were sailing under. This exception was promoted by the United States in the aftermath of World War II and was drafted with the ships sunk during that war in mind. However, since no time limit was ever introduced, Spain could claim ownership of Las Mercedes, even thought it was built in Cuba in 1786 and was in international waters, because it belonged to the Spanish Navy when it sank. Which it did.
    • Odyssey tried to argue that the wreck was actually a British ship - first the HMS Sussex (sunk 1693) and then the Merchant Royal (sunk 1641). These claims were proven false because both ships were known to have sunk too far away, the remains showed evidence of a gunpowder explosion before sinking (which was the case of Las Mercedes, but not the others), and the coins Odyssey was extracting and preparing for auction were Spanish pieces-of-eight bearing the image of Charles IV, who reigned over a century after either British shipwreck, in 1788-1808.
    • In a desperate move, Odyssey tried to get the government of Peru to also make a claim on the wreck, arguing that, while the ship may belong to Spain, the metals had been mined in colonial Peru and the coins struck in Lima; as a result, the real owner was the Republic of Peru because it was the modern successor of the colonial Viceroyalty of Peru. This didn't fly, and two American tribunals in Florida and Georgia ruled both that Spain was the legal owner of the findings, and that Odyssey had knowlingly acted against the law and in bad faith.
    • In turn, the verdict opened Spain to claim any sunken Spanish ship around the globe, even ships that were built, loaded and sunk entirely in what is now the national waters of other countries. This exact problem arised immediately, when the Spanish galleon San José (sunk 1708) was found just off the port of Cartagena, Colombia. After negotiations between the Colombian and Spanish governments, however, Spain agreed to assist in the salvage of the galleon and let it stay in Colombia - with the condition that its content was to be studied and not auctioned off.
  • 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.
  • Walmart can't do its usual tricks in Europe, since 35-38 hours would be full-time in much of the continent: in Britain 37.5 hours a week is generally seen as the default, and 35 hours in France. However the main distinction 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.
    • "Constructive Dismissal" wouldn't work in the UK as it is a legitimate reason to take your employer to an industrial tribunal so trying this would be risky for the employer.
  • 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.
  • 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.
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American countries

    Brazil 
  • Joke election candidates are 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.

    Canada 
  • In Canada, there are strict regulations and spending limits for political parties in election campaigns. However, there's nothing to prevent a party in power from using official government advertising to promote their agenda, nor do such spending limits exist outside of the official campaign period. Prior to the 2015 election, the then-ruling Conservative Party exploited both loopholes, using government money to run ads promoting policies not yet in place, as well as spending their own money to run attack ads.
  • The Rhinoceros Party of Canada was a joke party that 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.
  • Solicitation for prostitution is illegal in Canada, but prostitution itself isn't, leading to 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.
  • Canada prohibits annoying the administration by paying a large fine with pennies: By law, pennies are considered legal tender for amounts no greater than 25 cents.

    Mexico 
  • Under the 1857 Mexican Constitution, the vice-president, attorney general, foreign secretary, and interior secretary stood in line to the presidency. During a coup in 1913, General Victoriano Huerta had the president, vice-president and attorney-general arrested and forced to resign; the foreign secretary, now president, was forced to appoint Huerta interior secretary, then resign without filling the other positions, which made Huerta "legally" the president. All of this happened within the same day. As a result, the presidency of the foreign secretary (Pedro Lascuráin) is the shortest in world history.

    United States 
  • 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.
    • 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 their 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.
    • The Elastic Clause says that the United States Constitution covers things which aren't explicitly spelled out in it. In other words, it's a loophole designed to cover loopholes.
  • Prior to 2016, Mixed Martial Arts was long unsanctioned in New York, meaning the UFC couldn't hold events there. However, there's nothing in that law that says underground fight clubs are illegal.
  • The main reason behind Attack of the Political Ad being a Real Life trope in the United States is due to laws and rules regulating advertising by Political Action Committees or similar groups. Such groups cannot coordinate with or directly support a candidate, but there is nothing prohibiting them from bashing the opponents of their preferred candidate, and since the vast majority of elections in the US are between a Republican and a Democrat, there is little doubt as to which candidate a particular group supports, rendering the above restriction almost meaningless. Alas, thanks to the Citizens United decision, this is likely only to get worse as subsequent elections draw in more and more money from PACs.
    • Similarly, there's no rule saying a candidates' friends, family or long term aides can't work for PACs, or that people who are obviously planning to run for office but haven't officially announced their candidacy can't work with PACs that support them later.
    • Also, just because candidates can't provide footage specifically for advertisements produced by PACs, nothing is stopping them from putting "public domain" footage of themselves on their campaign website for anyone to download and use. Notoriously, in 2016, presidential candidate Ted Cruz uploaded a long, awkward conversation with his mother, and Senator Mitch McConnell uploaded a short clip of himself looking up from his desk and smiling at the camera; the latter provoked a contest by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (called "McConnelling") to see who could pair up the footage with the most ridiculous accompanying music.
    • This was in no small part the reasoning behind the Citizens United decision. The case involved a political group creating a movie studio and trying to release an unfavorable documentary on Hillary Clinton. The court ruled that advertising laws didn't apply to "the press", and a company is "the press" if they provide any speech which could be blocked by campaign advertising laws, so campaign advertising restrictions were unconstitutional.
  • This trope, along with Rules Lawyering and Exact Words, is the reason why so many government regulations and laws are so long, complicated, and excessively wordy. When making laws and regulations, the people who do so are very aware that if a loophole can be found, someone will exploit it. So they try to cover everything they can imagine when writing laws. There's a reason why "other income" is listed as a category on your income tax form. They mean all other income. If you're a drug dealer making millions illegally, you still have to report it on your income taxes. Income tax evasion is common because the people who do it are generally caught between a rock and a hard place. Report the illegal income so that you don't get in trouble with the IRS? Good work! You're a upstanding citizen. Ain't no rule that says the IRS can't report your illegal income to the Police, FBI, DEA, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, etc. If you buy eggs, it may seem like they use the term "chicken eggs" way too much. But if you buy eggs and it's not specified that they have to be chicken eggs, then there ain't no rule against your supplier bringing you ant eggs, salmon eggs... you get the picture
  • Ain't no rule saying the President can't pardon himself, despite the government in question being described as founded upon a principle of 'checks and balances'...
    • This is a subject of debate, the resolution of which seems to revolve around what a "pardon" is, and whether or not a pardon is by definition a grant to another person, in which case a self-pardon would be impossible.
  • Salaried workers in the US receive no overtime if they receive over $455 per week.
  • 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.
  • Louisiana Law is based on the Napoleonic Code meaning that, unlike in other states, letter of the law trumps precedent.
  • U.S. Law Enforcement is required to read suspects their rights before interrogating (technically interviewing) suspects, not necessarily immediately after arresting them. 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.
    • Specter of abuse 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. Nudity as a form of protest, such as during the annual World Naked Bike Ride, is also protected by the First Amendment in the U.S.
    • Additionally, "indecent exposure" laws will generally say that it's illegal to show your "private parts" in public. But in some jurisdictions, "private parts" do not include a woman's breasts. So in some places there actually isn't a rule that a woman can't go topless in public.
  • Ain't no rule against a cat being a town mayor, though in this case it's just an honorary position.
  • 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. It should be noted however this only (sorta) worked because Colbert and his character share the same name and thus he could say that the real person was just happening to run in character. A candidate must be a United States citizen by birth, and if they aren't born at all, they can't be born a United States citizen.
  • When the city of Chicago constructed the Chicago Skyway in 1958, they wished to operate it as a toll road to recover the cost of building it. The city charter did not give authority to operate a toll road; however, it did allow the city to have a toll bridge, even one with a six-mile approach. Thus, the Skyway was constructed so that, in either direction, it can only be exited after crossing the Calumet River, and paying the toll.
  • Several members of a well-known biker gang in California once subverted state law requiring a motorcycle operator to "wear a helmet" by strapping one to their knee. Ain't no rule saying a helmet should be worn on the head.
  • 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 in Minnesota, 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; social conservatives in other countries also took note and did the same. 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; serious debate on the subject began within the community, eventually leading to a consensus that equal access to marriage for gay and straight couples should be made a goal of the movement. Starting in the 1990s, various places began enacting laws reversing the 1970s changes and explicitly permitting persons of the same sex to marry; in the United States, where this whole business started, various states adopted laws permitting same-sex marriages starting in 2006 (when Massachusetts ended the limitation of marriage to straight couples by a judicial decision, with Iowa of all places quickly following suit), and in 2015 the federal Supreme Court held that the right to marry was fundamental and forbade states from prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying.
  • 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, but that's it. Attempts to add additional requirements via legislation have been declared unconstitutional. To get the two-term limit 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). That's it — they don't even check if you're a citizen or not.
      • For the U.S. Presidency, this is supposed to be mitigated by the Electoral College, which ultimately decides the presidency. The Framers felt that direct democracy was too subject to abuse by demagogues or just people being tricked. In theory, the Electoral College is supposed to be more responsible and educated elites. In practice, many states have laws requiring electors to vote the way the state voted, and the electors have never decided an election differently than the voters, though it did come close in the election of 1800.
      • Speaking of the line of succession, there is another weird loophole in that the Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate do not actually have to be a member of those bodies. Those bodies can pick anyone they want to lead them. Even non-citizens. So, considering that members of the cabinet also don't have to be citizens, it is technically possible to have the entire line of succession of the US filled with non-citizens who can't become president. (In addition to somewhat more obvious danger of having them full of non-natural born citizens or people under the age of 35.)
      • 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.
  • As often the case with a more sophisticated systems, the situation above itself arises from an attempt to block possible Loophole Abuse: professional and other qualification requirement were and are used as a discrimination tool in many points of history and the present world. It also serves to make Regulatory Capture contagious, if one less-then-straight institution finds itself with the exclusive right to vet candidates for another.
    • 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.
  • 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. (This law was most famously used in 2015 to bring down former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Dennis Hastert when Hastert was caught withdrawing money in this way in order to pay hush money to someone whom he apparently had abused while still a high school teacher and wrestling coach back in the 1970s.)
  • 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 everywhere 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 bump stock, made known from the infamous Las Vegas shooting in October 2017, is this as well. When a weapon is fired, the stock recoils against the wielder's shoulder. With a bump stock, the receiver recoils into a spring within the stock, the trigger falling into a recess in the grip so it is no longer being pulled, then bounces forward into the user's finger, pulling the trigger again. With this a weapon can fire repeatedly at a rate close to what it could do in full-auto, while still technically being semi-automatic since the trigger has been pulled and then reset between each shot. A blanket attempt to legally close this "loophole" following the massacre fell prey to the concept being so mechanically simple that the law proposed would have outlawed belt loops; individual states have had more success in banning the devices specifically, two states having already made them illegal before the shooting (California way back in 1990, New York in 2013) and five other states moving to do the same after (Florida, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington).
    • The massive amount of abusable loopholes in the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban are the primary reason so many people on both sides of the gun control debate hated it 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.
    • For a long time, rifles, shotguns and pistols have been lightly regulated in their separate categories. But putting a below sixteen-and-a-half inch barrel on a rifle or an less than eighteen-and-a-half inch barrel on a shotgun or putting a shoulder stock on a pistol created a new class of firearm that is highly regulated and requires an expensive, special, and difficult to obtain (many, MANY legal hoops to jump through plus a months-long wait) tax stamp. Recently, a firearms industry insider applied the Exact Words of US Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms regulations and created this bastard shotgun. I'm betting the Feds are still trying to figure out how to ban it. Or at least require the aforementioned tax stamp. Since the ATF defines a shotgun as a "shoulder-fired" smoothbore weapon, both Mossberg and Remington have seized on this and began marketing their own factory Sawed-Off Shotguns that include a special "bird's head" pistol grip that brings them up the minimum 26-inch total length, allowing the guns to avoid both the legal criteria that would get them classified as short-barreled shotguns.
    • This goes ditto for "pistol braces" on rifles configured as pistols. They're meant to keep the weapon steady while Firing One-Handed, but it took all of 2 seconds for owners to figure out that it could be used as a functional (if somewhat uncomfortable) shoulder stock. The ATF previously allowed them to remain legal on the condition that they not be used in this manner, but eventually changed their official position on both this and the above-mentioned shotguns to "Whatevs." Enthusiasts still recommend keeping a copy of the ATF's letter handy in case you run into an overzealous police officer or range director, however, and individual states may have their own laws that supersede the Federal ruling.
    • Belt-fed guns converted to semi-auto are growing in popularity in places that have magazine restrictions. This is because belt-fed weapons simply do not have a magazine at all (even the types you do see on some military ones are just boxes that hold the belts, with no mechanism for actually feeding it into a gun like the spring in a normal magazine), and thus you can fire as much ammo as you want without reloading. The MG 42 is the symbol of more than one Canadian gun club for this very reason.
    • After the Cold War ended, US President Clinton and Russian President Yeltsin signed various agreements against importation of Russian firearms into America, making more modern Russian designs far more difficult to acquire outside of their home. However, military-issue firearms that had been taken out of circulation bypassed many of these restrictions because they qualified for "curio & relic" status. And, in a double-instance of this trope, just about everything the Soviet-era military used qualified for one reason or another. Normally a gun has to have been manufactured at least fifty years ago to qualify for this status, which several weapons like the various types of Mosin-Nagant (a design originating from a hundred years prior to the Cold War ending and having been all but entirely replaced in every role it served in by the '50s) qualified for. Those that didn't, like more recently-produced Makarov pistols? They still qualified for the fact that the places they were manufactured in, like the Soviet Union and Eastern Germany, no longer technically existed; this has allowed the Makarov to go from a gun you used to only see in the hands of movie bad guys to one of the most popular civilian handguns in the United States because importing and purchasing one is about as easy as importing and purchasing a SIG Sauer or Heckler & Koch handgun - and noticeably cheaper.
  • The advance of technology allows crazy abuses when the law fails to predict that 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 muster 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 its 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.
  • The mandatory census and regular redrawing of voting districts in the US results in a flavor of abuse, Gerrymandering (CGP Grey provides a good, short explanation).
  • The Westboro Baptist Church:
    • They go around protesting funerals for gay people ("Matthew Shepard In Hell" for example) or funerals for military soldiers. As their protests are all held in public places, not on private property, this is entirely legal. Additionally, they only scream insults while they are protesting. 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. Notably, however, *deliberately* provoking someone into attacking you is known as "fighting words" and is considered a breach of the peace, and therefore illegal. That said, mere offensiveness is insufficient to prove fighting words; they must be trying to deliberately provoke you into attacking them, not simply stating an unpopular opinion.
    • The loophole works both ways. Ain't no rule that in a public place people can't put themselves between Westboro and their targets. Notably Patriot Guard Riders, a motorcycle group dedicated to respecting fallen heroes and grieving families alike.
  • 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 or the brand of chocolate made by Mars† ) — 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. Melissa Joan Hart sued Dove for $180,000 in 2015 for putting "Not Recommended for Families" on other movies. Here's what Kirsten Dunst says about The Dove Foundation: "I think The Dove Foundation is one of the worst family friendly organizations. They deserve to be punished for putting "Not Recommended for Families" on each movie they review so they deserve to have a major demerit once and for all. They deserve to erase their annoying "family-approved" seal on 2 of those movies and place them on other movies."
    • 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.
    • The Affordable Care Act required all Americans to purchase health insurance unless they met specific criteria for exemption, and specified a penalty of 2.5% of gross income or $695 for anyone who did not do so. When Republicans took power in 2017, they would have needed 60 votes in the Senate to outright repeal that, which they didn't have. However, under a process called reconciliation, any matters which only affect the income or expenditures of the federal government can be passed with a simple majority. So, they kept the requirement to purchase health insurance, but changed the penalty for not doing so to $0.
  • More legal Loophole Abuse, Walmart. While this practice is hardly unique to Walmart, they just happen to be the most well-known example of it. The practice in question are to skirting around labor laws.
    • "Walmart 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 Walmart 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.
    • Ain't No Rule against bumping people who worked legal-full time down to "Walmart full time" after they worked at the store long enough to qualify for more benefits.
    • This has happened to other firms and not just Walmart. 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. However, Unions, not being bound by these, have a tendency to call strikes if it gets out of hand.
    • There's all sorts of Loophole Abuse surrounding overtime...
    • In an "At-Will Employment" state (which is almost all of them), you can be fired for pretty much whatever reason and it will pretty much never be questioned by courts. Even though there are laws against firing someone for being a member of a "protected class", it is explicitly legal to fire anyone for literally no reason. So if you happen to be a member of a protected class, and your ex-boss didn't say why they fired you, it's rather difficult to prove your case in court. Not impossible, but difficult.
  • Another common Loophole Abuse that is pretty widespread, but Walmart 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.
    • It can 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 
    • Some places that do this try for damage control by pooling the tips that servers make between everyone they hire at that wage, with varying levels of success.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • One slick way (pun intended) that this occurs is through "massage parlors" that offer "customizable experiences." In such places, the customer pays to rent a room and have a massage. When the masseuse gets there, the customer 'leaves a tip' of differing denominations on a table. The tip signifies what services they actually want ($100 for a fully nude attendant, $150 for fellatio, etc.) The attendant picks up and counts the 'tip' and proceeds to engage in whatever activity the customer didn't specifically pay for. As long as no one mentions the word sex, it's an entirely legitimate business model.
    • 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).
  • 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....
    • US citizens are required to pay US income tax regardless of whether they live in the US or not (though in at lease some cases they can use taxes paid to the country they're actually resident in to offset their US tax liabilities).
  • 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 were entitled the protections of the Constitution. The Bush administration simply ignored these decisions, arguing that the Supreme Court had no authority to declare the (previously non-USA) base as part of the country.
  • 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.
  • There was no rule stating a candidate couldn't run for a third term as President, but nearly everyone who won a second term either stepped down of their own accord after it in remembrance of George Washington doing the same, or simply wasn't able to stay popular enough amongst the electorate to stand a chance of winning a third election. The lone Presidential exception to this unspoken rule 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 led 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 served as the head of two separate Presidencies (the 22nd and 24th).
    • Linked to both of the above, Theodore Roosevelt did try to run for a third term in 1912, after his two terms had ended in 1909 (and because he wasn't too pleased with how his successor, William Howard Taft was doing at the job), but did not win - in fact, his Bull Moose Party split the GOP vote, allowing Democrat Woodrow Wilson to win, and relegated the mainstream Republicans to a third-place slot for the only time in their history.
    • 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 slightly longer than that. If a President steps down, dies, or is otherwise removed from office in the middle of their term, their 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 they 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 person couldn't succeed themselves 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, succeeded him as Sheriff.
  • Some US states have different term limits when it comes to their governors. Some states have absolute term limits, others limit the number of consecutive terms one can serve, while other states have no limits at all.
    • Virginia, for instance, doesn't allow governors to succeed themselves - they serve one four year term, but can be up for election in the next gubernational race after they leave office.
    • Vermont and Maine governors can serve an unlimited number of terms; however, unlike most governorships, terms in those two states only last two years.
    • In the 1960s, the Governor of Alabama could not succeed himself after one four-year term. In the 1966 gubernatorial election, then-incumbent governor George Wallace had his wife Lurleen run. While Mrs. Wallace was the de jure Governor of Alabama until her death 16 months into her term, it served as Mr. Wallace's de facto second term. The Alabama State Constitution was amended in 1968 to allow for two consecutive terms, and Mr. Wallace would later be elected to serve two terms properly in the 1970s, then after being term-limited for the 1978 election, was elected for a fourth term in 1982.
  • If US state governors 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, 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 they refuse/neglect 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.
  • 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 not-for-Japan 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 and seat belts are removed and the rear glass is replaced with solid metal panels 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. Similarly, Chrysler builds the Ram ProMaster City, an Americanized version of the Fiat Doblò van, in Europe, 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 to the 25% import tariff. The Detroit Three uses the exemption to build some of their heavy duty pickups and commercial vans in Mexico.
  • 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 1700s, 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". The Thirteenth Amendment explicitly bans slavery "except as a punishment for crime", so there's still nothing stopping this sort of thing from happening even today.
  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's infamous "Big Gulp Ban"note , which prohibited the sale of sugary drinks, whether 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 judgenote  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 included in the ban, since they are regulated at the state level by the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets and not by 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.
  • 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.
  • US 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 by putting the concoction under running hot water and concealing it 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 finding 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.
  • Thanks to how the First Amendment of the United States is written, a school system in America doesn't technically give its students the right to free speech. Keep in mind, the school can only do this within the school system itself. Things like local newspapers, social media or cyberspace gives the students the last word as long as threats aren't 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 propertynote .
    • However, schools have their own loophole with this. If a student complains about a teacher, or otherwise expresses their feelings without personal threats of violence, they're safe if they do it on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Whatever they say can't get them in trouble with the law, but it might get them in trouble with the school, since the student willingly posted it to the public. In other words, assuming they aren't making a threat, what a student posts on Facebook can't get him arrested, but it might get him detention. However, cyber-bullying does fall under the threat of violence, at which point the law can intervene.
  • 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 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 could be legally sold over the counter until meth cookers begin to use it, forcing stricter rules 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 American, 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.
    • The way the federal drinking age came about is also fairly wacky. You see, Congress actually has no power to dictate the states where they set their legal drinking ages and at some point in the 1960s and 1970s some were actually lowering their legal drinking age to 18 or even lower - ages at which it is in most of the Western world and Canada - but at the same time studies indicated that young people were particularly prone to drunk driving. The solution? Well Congress can decide who gets the money from the Interstate Highway fund as that is a federal entity and they simply passed a law saying: If you don't raise the legal drinking age to 21 your apportionment from the federal highway fund will be zero dollars and zero cents. It did not take long for the state laws to change.
  • 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 the 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, though it depends on the teacher whether audio should be included.
    • Keep in mind, different states have different laws regarding what counts as a third party, usually parents and/or guardians.
    • 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 that anti-bullying wasn't being enforced after seeing his son suffering at the hands of a teacher. While teachers are forbidden to physically harm students due to a law banning corporal punishment, they obviously found a loophole in 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 he had his consent. When Chaifetz got the evidence he needed, the aide involved was fired and the teacher was suspended.
  • 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 women 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Legendary comics creator Gerry Conway has documented[1] how the DC Entertainment legal department is screwing over their creators by coming up with an ingenious way to ensure that the artists and writers aren't being compensated for the use of the characters they create. First, they declare that a character is a "derivative" of another character, so the creators don't get any credit for the new character and thus don't receive a compensation payment for its use (outside of what they're paid for their own work). But the creators of the original character also don't get any credit because they only created the original character, not the derived one. So, officially, there's no one who created the new character according to the policy, therefore DC doesn't have to pay a share of the revenue coming from the use of that character.
    • To understand what this means, the example Gerry used concerned the villain Killer Frost. The original Killer Frost, Crystal Frost, was created by Gerry and Al Milgrom. Caitlin Snow, the Killer Frost of The New 52 and supporting character in The Flash (2014) was created by Sterling Gates and Derlis Santacruz. In DC's logic, Gerry and Al are co-creators of not only the original Killer Frost, but also the new Killer Frost in all incarnations. Thus, Sterling and Derlis are screwed out of royalties for creating Caitlin as she is a "derivative" of Crystal. However, while Gerry and Al are Crystal's creators. they also claim that they didn't create Caitlin Snow, thus they are screwed out of any royalties, right or wrong. Confused and angry? You're not the only one.
  • Daily fantasy sports was just one loophole after another. In the U.S., gambling is defined by state laws, with federal laws restricting interstate wagering and electronic transfers of funds in connection to gambling that is illegal under state law. The definition of a game of chance varies by state, but paid competitions in traditional season-length fantasy sports are generally considered (well, in most states) to be a game of skill because of the challenge of having to manage your players over a long-term period. DFS, a version of the concept that uses only a single day/week of competition in a given sport, became popular in The New '10s: politicians have argued that DFS, unlike season-length fantasy, is gambling because its essentially wagering on the performance of athletes in a specific game. The multi-billion dollar DFS industry denies this opinion because they consider themselves to be a game of skill, as is traditional fantasy sports. At the same time, they promote themselves as if they are gambling services, flaunting increasingly large cash prizes. They also cite that the federal ban on funds transfers for gambling states that pay-to-play fantasy sports contests with pre-determined prizes were not gambling. However, as state laws override this carve-out, its basically symbolic. Plus, said law predates the concept of DFS, and its author has stated that it's not meant to be a carte blanche for this particular industry. More and more U.S. states are beginning to see through this smoke screen and explicitly rule that DFS is gambling, or on the other hand, carve out specific regulations for DFS as a legal form of skill-based gambling (such as Massachusetts, and New York — where DraftKings and FanDuel were involved in a lawsuit against the Attorney General over the legality of DFS).
    • In October 2015, it was exposed that employees of the two largest DFS sites—who are not eligible to participate in their service's own contests, were using privileged internal information to play in and win money from each other. This came to an end quickly, but set the stage for a general legal dispute over the legality of DFS in the state of New York.
    • These points started to become moot in 2018: another key reason for all the hoop-jumping was because federal law (with a few exceptions for areas like Nevada) actually forbade states from implementing laws that legalized sports wagering. Thanks to a lawsuit by the state of New Jersey, this law has since been declared unconstitutional; the DFS companies promptly began to expand into legal sportsbooks where possible, hoping that their name recognition would carry over.
  • When William Friedkin wanted to do a digital restoration of his film Sorcerer (famously killed by bad marketing) he was held up by the distribution contract: Universal distributed the film domestically, and Paramount internationally, and neither company thought the film was worth digging through the appropriate paperwork to figure out who the rights currently belonged to. So, Friedkin filed a lawsuit for witheld royalties from the film. At this point the film hadn't been released in any capacity in years, and there were no royalties to dispute, but the very fact that a lawsuit had been filed meant the companies were legally required to figure out who owned the movie, so that Friedkin could sue the correct party.
  • Some technology firms hire software developers as contractors. The idea is that since they don't technically work for the company, they don't have to give the developer any benefits (among other things like minimizing administration costs). However, in the US, the IRS set some pretty strict guidelines of defining if an employee works for the company or is a contractor, regardless of hiring agreements. This hits companies hard whenever the IRS does an audit.
  • A lot of what the federal government of the US does, has done in the past and probably will do in the future is an abuse of one specific loophole. You see, the Constitution grants the right to regulate trade between the several states to the federal government, which on the face of it is pretty reasonable. However, this so called interstate commerce clause has been used to justify pretty much any law that the federal government may or may not actually have had the power to pass otherwise. Usually it goes like this: Do we want to have a federal regulation? Is there some way we can say this has to do with Interstate Commerce? Great, let's pass the law. And the courts have not helped stop the abuse by ruling that entirely intrastate activities are "interstate commerce" if it has a potential to affect interstate commerce regulated by the federal government (with definition of "commerce" expanded much beyond what it meant before 1900s).
  • In 2012, a New York State court ruled that it was legal to view child pornography as long as one didn't "possess" it (i.e., by downloading it). Image caching by a web browser did not count as possession. The Obvious Rule Patch was put in place four months later.
  • A "warrant canary" gets around rules forbidding anyone from mentioning the existence of a secret subpoena. It's simply a regularly updated statement that no such warrant has been served as of the specified date. If the statement is not updated as expected, it can then be inferred that a secret subpoena has been issued, without anyone having ever actually said so. The law forbidding mentioning of the secret subpoena doesn't apply until one is actually received, so the statement that you have not received one is legal to publish and truthfully update. The US constitution's prohibition on compelled speech prevents them from forcing you to lie by any means other then omission, so they can't stop you from letting it lapse after you have received one. While there are exceptions to the compelled speech doctrine, every court tested exception in the US requires that the compelled speech be truthful (warning labels are compelled truthful speech). Note that this applies specifically to the United States, and other country governments may be able to force you to lie and continue to say you have not received one.
  • Some businesses in the U.S. are trying to go completely electronic in their money transactions and not accept cash. However, the federal law states that cash money is legal tender for goods and services rendered and a business is not allowed to refuse it as payment (or at least not refuse it and then claim the customer didn't pay). However, businesses still have the right to refuse service to potential customers. Thus, if you indicate beforehand that you will pay with cash and the business refuses to deal with you because of that, they are within their rights. But if they do deliver and after that you try to pay with cash, then the aforementioned federal law comes into play.
  • There were many reasons why Prohibition in the United States failed. For one, the Volstead Act (the federal law banning alcohol enabled by the 18th Amendment) was to be enforced by only 1,520 federal agents tasked with covering the whole of the United States. This was only one agent per 70,000 people and thus wholly inadequate to either enforce the 18th Amendment within society or control America's vast coastline and huge unguarded borders with Mexico and Canada. What's more, the Volstead Act itself was riddled with loopholes. People were allowed to quite legally brew wine and cider for consumption at home whilst doctors were allowed to prescribe alcohol for medicinal purposes and clergymen for religious sacraments, legal technicalities which were extensively exploited and abused (see George Remus in Boardwalk Empire). Furthermore it was not actually illegal to drink alcohol, only to sell it, transport it or manufacture beer/spirits, allowing many people to quite legitimately consume whatever they had stockpiled in the period between the act passing in October 1919 and becoming law in January 1920.
    • One particularly flagrant case of loophole abuse during the era was that vineyards that had, prior to Prohibition, produced wine instead started producing bricks of concentrated grape juice, which could be reconstituted by adding water. They often came with detailed instructions about what things buyers should avoid doing so they didn't "accidentally" make wine instead.
    • Inversely, if an asshole cop wanted to ruin your day, he could arrest you for "transportation of alcohol" even if you just carried a bottle in your car or your own body, because there was no legal limit to the transportation charge.
  • Puerto Rico suffered an economic crisis that was the culmination of a bunch of little legal loopholes due to its status as a U.S. territory. Loopholes that made it easier for businesses and Wall Street to plunder Puerto Rico.
  • There are of course many cases of people abusing loopholes to inconvenience government officials, but one of the classics is paying a large fine in pennies. A man in Virginia did this in January of 2017, bringing 300,000 pennies to a DMV office. Because pennies are, for all intents and purposes, legal tender, the DMV was then forced to count the several wheelbarrows worth of coinage by hand. In order to bring forth the copper, the person in question spent over $1,000.
  • In the United States, federal law strictly regulates conflicts of interest for federal workers. However, these laws do not apply to the President of the United States of America, instead relying on traditions and decorum—essentially, an honor system—to prevent the president from utilizing his office for personal gain. This rule is partially patched by the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits government officers, including the president, from receiving gifts or other considerations from foreign governments without Congressional approval.
  • The New York City subway banned pets from riding unless they are in a carrier or a bag. Passengers have gotten increasingly creative in avoiding this, ranging from strong passengers carrying very large dogs in duffels to just cutting leg holes in an plastic bag and letting the dog walk since it's technically still in the bag. Strictly speaking, the law says that the dogs must be carried in a manner that will not annoy the other passengers, so as long as no one complains they're following the spirit of the law as well as the letter.
  • The late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs abused a loophole in California vehicle registration law to effectively never have a license plate on his car. California drivers had a grace period of six months to obtain registration on a new car. Jobs would simply turn over the lease on his silver Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG every six months for an identical model, resetting the grace period. Five years after Jobs' death, California lawmakers closed the loophole; starting in 2019, any new car sold will be issued with a temporary plate and dealers will have to report the sale to the California DMV.
  • Tennessee has a law called the Tennessee Heritage Protection Act, which prohibits the removal of monuments installed on public properties in the state, including Confederate statues. In December 2017, the city of Memphis got around this by selling two of the public parks that has such statues (for Jefferson Davis and Nathan Bedford Forrest) to a private organization. Since they are now considered private properties, they can remove the statues legally. Both statues were removed mere hours after the sale.
    • Similar loophole abuse has been used to prevent monuments from being removed. No layer of government is allowed to endorse a particular religion, but there are plenty of Christian symbols like crosses or monuments containing the ten commandments. Courts have fairly consistently ordered state and local governments to remove the offending monument. Rather than have the religious monument be removed, the government sell the land containing the monuments, so the government is no longer directly "endorsing" the religion.
  • In 2017, net neutrality was repealed by the FCC in the United States, which means that internet service providers are allowed to throttle the internet speed of their customers, slow down certain websites, or even have some websites blocked completely and it would be perfectly legal. The repeal states that individual states cannot reverse the repeal themselves, but the governor of Montana found out that the clause does not include government contracts and decided to abuse the loophole by forcing ISPs to uphold net neutrality as a part of the government contract in that state. Ergo, a state cannot reverse the net neutrality repeal directly, but they can enforce the reversal as a part of their government contract so that ISPs will have to abide by it if they want to keep making money from the government of that state. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has followed suit.
  • In 2018, it was noticed that there ain't no rule saying the governor of Kansas has to be... well, anything whatsoever; the state law at the time named absolutely no qualifications for the position. This led to multiple high school students who were too young to vote, some of whom were not state residents either, to declare candidacy. Also, in the finest tradition of Loophole Abuse, a dog. (As of this posting, the election is ongoing.)
  • One popular legend has it that the ice cream sundae got its name because it was developed to get around "blue laws" prohibiting the selling of ice cream sodas on a Sunday. The rather simple solution was apparently to leave out the soda water but keep the ice cream and flavored syrup.
  • In the United States, everyone who makes more than a certain income is required to pay income tax, and that includes corporations. Said corporations get around the rules by moving their profits to a different country that has a lower tax rate or even no tax rate at all. Because the money isn't being "made" in the U.S., the government can't enforce taxes on money that is not "there".
  • When margarine was first introduced in the US, American butter companies feared it would ruin their business due to margarine being cheaper to make than butter. So the butter companies lobbied the government to restrict and hinder the sale of margarine with one of them being margarine could not be dyed in the color yellow and had to be sold in white or pink color, making it unappealing to the consumers. The margarine companies agreed not to dye their products yellow... but the law never said they could not sell margarine with packets of yellow dye where consumers can mix the two.
  • Glider kits (essentially a truck minus its engine and transmission) were intended for salvaging and reusing parts from old or wrecked trucks. They are also exempt from emissions regulations and the federal excise tax. Rather obviously, this has led to companies using only gliders for their truck fleet to avoid paying taxes.
  • The Yellowstone National Park is almost entirely in Wyoming, but extends a bit into Montana and Idaho. Yet it falls in its entirety under the District of Wyoming, even the bits in Montana and Idaho. Since the US Constitution demands an "impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed", if ever someone is murdered in that uninhabited 50 square mile strip, good luck in finding that jury. That's how — even though this loophole hasn't tested yet — that strip earned its nickname "The Death Zone".
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European countries

    Ancient Rome 
  • 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.
  • Ain't no rule that says a horse can't sit on the Roman Senate. Although it was technically more a case of the person in question reminding everyone Screw the Rules, I Make Them!.
  • In Ancient Rome, in 162 BC, there was a grain shortage, so a new law was created that people were not allowed to fatten their chickens (meaning "hens") for slaughter with grain. Wily chicken farmers looked at this law, then promptly turned around and castrated their young roosters, fattening those instead. The law only prohibited the fattening of hens, after all. This loophole thus created the capon, one of the great delicacies of Classical Antiquity through the Early Modern West, and still prized among gourmets today.

    Belgium 
  • 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.")

    Czech Republic 
  • In the 17th Century when the country was still the Kingdom of Bohemia, the newly crowned and devoted Catholic, King, Ferdinand II, forced the Czech people to speak German in public and ban the use of the Czech language in anyway including in plays and official business due to most of Czech being Protestants. But one area that didn't ban the use of the Czech language were puppet shows, thus the locals could get away of speaking their native tongue without repercussions and saving the language from extinction.

    Denmark 
  • 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.
    • Another situation where Denmark suffers from this is School Internships. Regardless of age, when you take a "workforce-oriented education" you need an internship to complete said education. If you fail to find an internship, some schools can offer you a School Internship. Normally, everyone who's part of the Danish workforce has the right to 25 days off, 5 special days off and a specific salary. These rules also applies to apprentices doing internships at companies. However, if you're doing a School Internship, you're technically not working for a company but instead technically going to school, so the legally required days off don't apply and you only receive whatever a regular student would get every month, saving the schools a lot of money and getting cheap electricians/IT-supporters/cooks with ease. And most students aren't even informed of their terms as School Interns.
    • 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.
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    France 
  • French comedian Coluche 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.
  • 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!
  • 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 his lands kept being sub-divided (as had happened to his predecessor Charlemagne's empire about 150 years earlier); although the Crown Lands were not the whole kingdom (which had been the problem with Charlemagne's empire), the Crown Lands did provide the king of the undivided kingdom with his sole source of income and feudal levies (i.e. soldiers, i.e. power) to fight off the avaricious nobles, and if they were continually divided and subdivided the King of France would become the biggest joke on the Continent. 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 Crown Lands—being the property (as their name implied) of whoever held the crown—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 below.
  • 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.
  • This is why photos of the Eiffel Tower at night are technically copyright infringement. While the tower itself has been in the public domain since 1993, ain't no rule that says you can't install lights and call it art.note  As a result, the French government considers the tower and the lights to be separate works of art, with the latter's copyright owned by the Société d'Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel.

    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."
  • 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 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 Chamber Court (Reichskammergericht) 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 von Goethe.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Those Wacky Nazis never abolished 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.
  • In many parts of Medieval Germany, serfs couldn't carry swords, and were restricted to nobles only, but swords were defined as "double-edged, straight-bladed weapons with pommeled handles." This led to a class of single-edged weapons known as messer, which is German for "knife" (the terms langes messer (long knife) grosses messer (big knife) and kriegsmesser war knife) are also used, nearly interchangeably). These messer were the size, length and balance of swords, and could be used in the same way, but, since they were single-edged, they counted as knives.
  • In Germany (and and few other European countries) it is illegal to display any sort of Nazi symbols, so white supremacists living in those countries put up Confederate flags, as there are no bans against it.
    • Similarly Nazi Party symbols may be banned, but substituting in new symbols Neo-Nazis agree are racist is not. The most famous are the quenelle note  and the "eight eight"note . This phenomena is why people advocate that banning these kinds of symbols is pointless, at worst you will limit people critical of Nazism and Neo-Nazis will still find a way to be Neo-Nazis.
    • German neonazis also parade often under symbols of the Second Reich (1871-1918), which are not banned.

    Greece 
  • 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.
  • Strip clubs in various Greek island resorts, (generally the ones where British schoolchildren go for their sixth year holidaysnote ) ignore laws against prostitution by offering massages.

    Hungary 
  • "King" Mary of Hungary. No Queen could rule Hungary according to law, but there was no law against a woman being King. This loophole would be used again by King Maria Theresa of Hungary a few centuries later. Note that the Hungarian language only has genderless pronouns, making it somewhat easier to carry it out.
  • In the kingdom of Hungary, the crown itself (the physical object) had something which we would call today a "legal personality", owning the lands of the country, and the king was technically a regent for it.
  • 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. There is, for some reason, 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".

    Iceland 
  • 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.

    Italy 
  • The Italian comedian Beppe Grillo's political participation—including his "Five-Star Movement" political party—started out as a joke. At the February 2013 Italian election, they won enough seats to determine who would be running (or not) the Italian government. And in 2018, it became the most voted party altogether and entered a coalition government with the second most voted option, the Center-Right Coalition.
  • The post-war Italian constitution banned death penalty for civil crimes from the moment it became valid, with the unofficial rule being that any such crime that received a death sentence in the meantime being quietly turned into a lengthy prison sentence. As such the authors of the Villarbasse massacre expected to get away with their crime in spite of the whole public opinion clamoring for their execution (to the point that the only one who escaped arrest and the death sentence did so because the Mafia got him first)... But there was no rule stating that the president of Italy had to turn all death sentences into prison terms, and he refused.

    Netherlands 
  • The Netherlands is 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 queen regnant (i.e. the actual reigning monarch being female) 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 regnantnote  are officially known as "Prince of the Netherlands" to avoid this particular legal issue.

    Norway 
  • 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.
  • After World War II, the Norwegians had to figure out how to deal with their Nazi-collaborating puppet leader Vidkun Quisling. They would have very much liked to put a bullet in his brain, but there was just one problem - the death penalty was illegal in Norway, and the Norwegians wanted to keep it that way. So they simply legalized the death penalty, executed Quisling, and then re-banned it once Quisling was dead and buried.

    Poland 
  • Ain't no rule your political party can't have the goal of promoting beer-drinking culture. And win 16 seats in parliament.
  • When a minor Succession Crisis occurred in Poland in 1384, the Polish nobles decided that Jadwiga, the younger sister of the Hungarian King 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).

    Portugal 
  • Portuguese law on pyramid schemes criminalizes schemes where products are sold, but not where there's only money being moved around. Multi-Level Marketing is still (apparently) legal, though.
  • 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"note  above 21 years old who could read and write and/or had income/paid income tax above the value established by law - thus, 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 Ângelonote  qualified as a "head of household" and thus as a voter, hence becoming the first woman to vote in Portugal and indeed Southern Europe.

    Romania 
  • Romanian law allows for the reduction of a prisoner's sentence for each book written or academic degree earned while in prison. Unsurprisingly, there have been crime bosses, and influential politicians imprisoned for charges of corruption, who "wrote" dozens of books and "earned" several academic degrees in just a few months.

    Russia 
  • 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...
  • When Tsar Feodor III decreed in 1679 that all field slaves should be made serfs, he effectively abolished slavery in most of his empire (Peter the Great would complete the process by making all house slaves into serfs in 1723). Feodor didn't do this out of humanitarian concerns; in fact, Russian serfdom was almost every bit as bad as slavery, and serfs could be bought and sold the same. The key difference was that serfs paid taxes, while slaves did not. In order to lose that burden, many serfs had agreed to become slaves to their lords.

    Spain 
  • Of 35 Visigothic kings between 395 and 720 AD, 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?
  • In Spain, it is illegal to publish election polls on the 5 days preceding a general election, but it is not illegal to make them. In the time leading to the 2015 Spanish general elections, the Andorran newspaper El Periòdic d'Andorra published a new poll every day with data collected by its owner, the Spanish newspaper El Periódico de Catalunya. And because Twitter and Facebook are considered publications, even though it's unlikely any action would be taken, Spaniards humoristically shared the polls during those five days while claiming that they were prices in Andorran supermarkets. Water stood for ruling party PP (whose color is blue), strawberries for PSOE (bright red), eggplants for Podemos (purple), oranges for Ciudadanos (orange) and tomatoes for IU-UP (green and darker red).

    Sweden 
  • In 18th century Sweden, one complicated legal manoeuvring and trickery led to the Riksdag being firmly superior to the monarch, who also had a stamp made with his signature to save on time when mass-signing laws. The monarch later tried to gain leverage to regain some authority by refusing to sign laws — at which point the Riksdag took hold of the stamp, argued that the use and acceptance of it meant that the signature made by it was legally the same thing as the king writing a signature, made a declaration to that effect, and used the stamp to sign laws themselves. In other words, the loophole was that for certain legal purposes the (role of the) king was a literal stamp.

    Ukraine 

  • Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoyskyi has a Ukrainian, Cypriot and Israeli citizenship, even though the constitution of Ukraine forbids dual citizenship. He explains it that even though the constitution forbids double citizenship, it doesn't say anything about triple citizenship.

    United Kingdom 
  • 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 enough to stymie egregious loophole abuses.
  • 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 their party affiliation any way they like. 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.
  • Under British law, an MP cannot be impeached or resign; once elected, you must serve your full five-year term. (This rule dates back to days when not all MPs actually wanted the position—it was an unpaid position, and what with the roads in pre-19th century Britain being nothing short of atrocious, being an MP, with the attendant constant travel to Westminster, made it difficult for a member to actually attend to whatever business he made his living in). However, if an MP is appointed to "an office of profit of the Crown"—i.e. a paid government job in an executive or judicial capacity—the constituency from which the MP was elected must hold a by-election, theoretically to give the people an opportunity to ensure that the MP is not being corrupted by the King's money.note  Significantly, the MP has the option not to stand in this by-election. Thus in cases where an MP either wishes to leave Parliament or is convicted of a crime, publicly disgraced, or in some other way proves unfit, they are appointed to the job of Crown Steward and Baliff for the Chiltern Hundreds or Crown Steward and Baliff for the Manor of Northstead, positions which have no actual duties and are responsible for areas that no longer legally exist. They do, however, come with pittance salaries (usually a few pounds), thereby qualifying as "offices of profit of the Crown", triggering the by-election. The MP then can quietly decline to stand in the by-election, resign from the non-job, and move on with his/her life.
  • 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 their 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.
  • 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.
  • Britain banned handguns for private ownership but it merely specified that a handgun is a gun below a certain length. Cue companies simply offering not-handguns with really long barrels and pistol braces.
    • Britain notably banned many of the indigenous people in its colonies from owning any kind of firearm. This can be a bit of a drag when you have all sorts of nasty predators running around your village. The solution was to just start making ridiculously powerful air rifles.
  • When the term was first coined in the UK, a "civil liberty" was simply something that you were not prohibited from doing. This leads to an old Russian joke: Someone called Armenian Radio and asked, "What is permitted and what is prohibited?" Armenian Radio replied: "In Britain, what is permitted is permitted, and what is prohibited is prohibited. In America, everything is permitted, except for that which is prohibited. In France, everything is permitted, including that which is prohibited. In Germany, everything is prohibited, except for that which is permitted. And in the Soviet Union, everything is prohibited, including that which is permitted."
  • 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.
  • 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 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.)
  • The Bill of Middlesex procedure allowed the Court of King's Bench to take cases that it didn't otherwise have jurisdiction for. The King's Bench had limited powers of arrest, but it could make arrests on the charge of trespass in the county of Middlesex. So the plaintiff would claim the defendant had committed trespass in Middlesex, allowing the defendant to be arrested; once they were in custody, the actual charges would be brought forward and the trespass claim would be quietly dropped.
  • In the period from 1629 to 1640, King Charles I of England attempted what is now known as his "personal rule" - governing without calling Parliament. However, as only Parliament could grant him the right to collect most conventional taxes, Charles turned to various somewhat unconventional methods of raising revenue:
    • He fined people who were "encroaching on royal forests". Past monarchs had done this, but the point of it was supposed to be to deter people from living near the forests. Charles, by contrast, wanted to encourage people to live near the forests so he could collect more fines.
    • He started enforcing a law saying that men of a certain wealth who didn't present themselves to the king to be knighted could be fined. This law hadn't been enforced in over 300 years. Even when it had, as with the forests the point was not to raise revenue through the fines, but to encourage rich men to present themselves before the king. Charles had no interest in making more knights, he simply wanted to collect the fines.
    • The most notorious of all was "ship money". Officially, this was supposed to fund the construction of ships in a short amount of time when they were needed and the king didn't have the cash on hand to fund construction. As such, it was considered an emergency one-time measure to be paid only by coastal counties. Charles, however, demanded that it be paid by all counties year after year, noting that there was no explicit prohibition on him doing so, and that what constituted an "emergency" was defined by the king.
  • In the UK, there was a huge controversy over "Super Injunctions" — injunctions that forbid even mentioning the fact that such an injunction exists. Which, it was argued, certain very rich individuals were abusing to suppress free speech and/or silence less well off parties in disputes. Theoretically anyone could overturn one by breaking it (once the information is out, it no longer applies), but would be guilty of being in contempt of court. However, in parliament, MPs have what's known as "parliamentary privilege", which protects them from the legal repercussions of anything they say as long as it's relevant to whatever parliament is debating at the time. So, when Trafigura tried to use one to stop The Guardian from reporting on alleged illegal waste dumping Paul Farrelly MP brought it up during Prime Minister's Questions, overturning the injunction.
  • In the early 19th century, the British government placed taxes on timber imports. Willy timber merchants in Canada realized that this affected only timber transported aboard ships, but there was no rule on selling the timber that the ship itself was made of! Thus they invented the "disposable ship" - some of the longest wooden ships ever built (c. 100 m / 350 ft), which were barely seaworthy as they were little more than a lot of long timbers lashed together. These ships would sail to Britain only once, with little or no official cargo, and dissasemble completely at the destination port to sell their parts tax-free.
  • As a protest against Margaret Thatcher's crackdown on raves, the IDM band Autechre released an EP entitled "Anti EP" to benefit the National Council for Civil Liberties. One of the songs on the EP, "Flutter", was intentionally designed to loop around the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act's prohibitions on gatherings where "a succession of repetitive beats" is being played: the band stated that they "made as many different bars as we could on the drum machine, then strung them all together."

    The Vatican 
  • 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 13, although he was not allowed to deliberate with the other cardinals until he was 16. 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 reinstituted the papal conclave, where the elector Cardinals are locked in a room until they elect the new Pope.note 

Rest of the World

    Australia 
  • Adam Hills, an Australian 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."

    China 
  • 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 out of spite; turns out that while construction 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.
  • In China, there's a long, sad idea known as "Hit-to-Kill". The idea of this is that if a person hits a pedestrian with a vehicle, they will intentionally run them over until they're dead, then claim they didn't know that they hit the person, mistaking them for an inanimate object. The idea behind this is due to the fact that the surviving victim is usually paid for their pain and suffering continuously, which can be very expensive for the guilty party; however, if the guilty party kills the victim, they only have to pay a one-time fee to the victim's family and a jail sentence, thus they see it as the Lesser of Two Evils to escape a lifetime of financial burden. However, this is slowly — slowly — becoming a Dead Horse Trope with the advent of CCTV, but there are still many people who accept the reasoning despite the evidence.
  • Since the one-child policy (replaced with a two-child policy in 2016) didn't punish multiple births, many women, especially in the urban upper class and conservative rural areas, sought fertility treatment with the express intention of having twins, causing the number of twins born in China to double.

    Egypt 
  • Hatshepsut was crowned Pharaoh, a masculine title, 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. Ain't no rule the Pharaoh has to be a man.
  • 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.

    Iran 
  • One pre-Islamic tradition that is still found under Shi'a beliefs is Nikah mut‘ah, (or Sigheh in Iran), a contractual agreement where the two parties agree to a marriage for a set period of time, with a dower traditionally given to the wife. This form of marriage was developed to allow Intrepid Merchants in the old days of commerce (back when a trade journey could take years on end) to marry a woman in the foreign land he was staying in semi-long-term (a few months to a few years) without having to worry about the somewhat messy divorce when he inevitably returned home.note  Today, this temporary marriage is being exploited in Iran to get around the ban on prostitution because there's no formal religious or legal definition of the minimum time the contract can run, thus it isn't a prostitute getting paid by her customer for sex, it's a wife receiving a dower from her husband before their one-night marriage ends in divorce.

    Israel 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Israel has been in 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.
  • Israel's nukes operate on a form of Loophole Abuse as well. The country has never officially admitted to having a nuclear program, even though pretty much everyone knows it exists. This is because, if it did officially reveal its program, it would give regional adversaries such as Iran carte-blanche to build their own nukes, consequently proliferating them in one of the most unstable and war-torn areas on Earth. Detailed Explanation 

    Japan 
  • According to Japanese law, a suspect has extensive rights to be protected against abuse and can only be held in custody without incrimination for 28 days at most (at which point a judge cannot prolong it any more). In practice there's no law saying that the suspect can have his lawyer present (and in fact the police can outright bar the suspect from meeting him until the trial), and there's no rule saying they can't arrest you again the moment you step out of the cell.
  • 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.
  • Japanese immigration laws are notoriously restrictive, unless you are the descendant of a Japanese citizen. However, ain't no rule that descendant cannot be adopted into the family. In some infamous cases, wanted South American criminals with no Japanese ancestry paid Japanese descendants to adopt them as adults, then used that "family connection" to flee to Japan.
  • 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.
  • 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 REVAi, or G-Wiz, which is better known 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 due to the many issues with the car.
  • Japanese whalers are infamous for claiming to do all their captures for "research" purposes because the 1982 international moratorium on whaling doesn't apply to scienstific research, just commercial whaling. Crews will even held up bilingual signs claiming that their work is for research purposes only when filmed by anti-whaling activists. Mysteriously, whale meat keeps popping in Japanese fish markets, while whale research papers never make it into scienstific publications...
  • On a weird note, similar to the immigration laws above, the Japanese Censoring Laws are very strict, which requires every explicit adult works be it live action (commonly referred as A Vs or JA Vs, short for Japanese Adult Videos) or drawn/animated ones meant to be sold locally to censor the genitalia shown in them. However, uncensored JA Vs and anime porn are still exists. How, you ask? In addition to obvious reasons like the studios being owned by the Yakuza (which, as it implies, many does not really care about hygiene as mainstream adult studios do) or for foreign releases (which are the case for hentai animes released in US), the law does not state about censoring Japanese works made by foreign studios/companies meant to be sold for international market, so some studio do just that: make a foreign HQ office address, but produce their works locally in Japan, meant to be distributed internationally (which most Japanese can still buy/download them).

    Malaysia 
  • 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 against damages by Lloyd's of London.

    Mongolia 
  • The Mongols had rules against spilling noble blood over the ground. As a result, 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.
    • Earlier, Jamukha had boiled some of Genghis Khan's generals alive in a giant cauldron.
    • Oghul Qaimish, the widow of a Khan who plotted to murder his successor, was put in a felt sack and drowned in a river after her plot was discovered.
    • 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 dined 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!

    Philippines 
  • Campaign advertisements for election candidates in the Philippines are naturally subject to regulation, but aspiring politicos tend to get around this by putting up thinly-veiled television commercials prior to the actual campaign period, for as long as they have the resources. As a matter of fact, the courts ruled in favour of this, much to the chagrin of those opposed to said practice, based on the technicality that the COMELEC (Commission on Elections) has no jurisdiction over any publicity campaigns by (would-be) candidates until the actual election season starts.
  • 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.
  • The late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos was allowed by the Supreme Court to be buried at the Heroes' Cemetery (Libingan ng mga Bayani in Filipino) simply because of this trope (cue Internet Backdraft); he was never convicted by final judgment on any offense and due to the principle of civilian control over the military, his ouster as president (and in effect, commander-in-chief of the country's armed forces) during the EDSA Revolution of 1986 does not count as dishonorable discharge from the service. To clarify further, those two items mentioned earlier disqualify someone from being buried there.

    Thailand 


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