| Dec 18, 2008

Legalese - Holiday Legal Quiz

Back toHome

Legalese - December 18, 2008Christmas 2008

Christmas Art Contest

Christmas Cakeby John Diamond

Christmas Messageby Rev. Jean Brown

Christmas Celebrations:a Photo Gallery

Early Literacy:Christmas Books

Festival Of Trees

How Chanuka Saved Christmas

Interview with Maryby Pastor Jeff Nault

Legalese:Holiday Legal Quiz

Prince Charles Students Talk about Christmas


Remounting ofa Long Short Story

The Special Giftby Hope Attaway

Holiday Legal Quiz

The lawyers at Rural Legal Services scoured the law books and put their heads together to come up with the 2008 Holiday Legalese Quiz. We hope you have fun and do well (in that order). All the Best of the Season from the staff at the Legal Clinic.

Question 1: The Christmas Carol Jingle Bells with its “dashing through the snow in a one-horse-open sleigh…” is more than a fanciful song to make “spirits bright” over the Holiday Season because on Ontario highways the horse must have two bells attached to its harness or two bells fastened to the sleigh. True or False?

Question 2: There are legal regulations on the shape of a Christmas tree for retail sales in Ontario. True or False?

Question 3: Santa is more than a little irritated. It’s been a long night and after going down your chimney he is appalled at the soot on his pristine red outfit! He leaves you a note demanding that you clean your chimney, or else! Oh, and you don’t get that new electric drill, either. Is Santa just being grumpy or does the “or else” mean more than being on next year’s “naughty” list, as well?

Question 4: A customer at a dollar store purchased $5 worth of gifts. He gives the clerk a bag of 500 pennies to pay the bill. The clerk at the store is not required to accept the 500 pennies because:

The pennies have not been properly rolled;

a seller is not required to accept more than one pound of currency per transaction;

pennies are legal tender only for transactions not exceeding 25 cents; or

the pennies will not fit in the cash drawer.

Question 5: This Christmas if you give someone a gift card, the person who receives the gift card must spend it within two years. True or False?

Question 6: When the wrapping paper is put in the appropriate recycling container, you realize that Auntie Matilda, for the fifth year in a row, has bought you the box set of The Best of Frank Sinatra! Not to worry! Just like last year you know you can return it, and maybe pick up that new Nickelback CD instead. Right?

Question 7: Mrs. Claus can act as a guarantor for Mr. Claus, if he were applying for a Canadian passport, (assuming they were Canadians living in Canada). True or False?

Question 8: Torts have always been part of the Holiday Season. Tort law is concerned with:

a) organized crime;

b) injuries for which one may legally recover damages; or

c) cakes, often chocolate ones.

Question 9: Santa Claus completes his world tour and arrives back at the North Pole to find Mrs. Claus in a tizzy. Seems she takes care of the bookkeeping and this year the Elves want more than a few extra candy canes and sugar plums for keeping the operation going and putting away the sleigh and stabling the reindeer on Christmas Day, as well as Boxing Day! Since we all know that the North Pole is just a northerly extension of Ontario, how does Mrs. Claus determine what to pay the Elves for their work on these public holidays?


Answer 1: True. Section 77 (1) of the Ontario Highway Traffic Act states that“Every person travelling on a highway with a sleigh or sled drawn by a horse or other animal shall have at least two bells attached to the harness or to the sleigh or sled in such a manner as to give ample warning sound.” The penalty for not having the two bells is a fine of not more than $5.

Answer 2: True. Ontario legislators have addressed the festive question of how tapered a Tannenbaum should be. There is a regulation under the Farm Products Grades and Sales Act, 1990, which delineates different “grades” of Christmas trees. One of the criteria utilized is what sort of “taper” the tree has.

For Christmas trees that are Douglas, or Balsam fir, Black, White, Red, or Norway spruce, a “normal taper” means that the base of the tree is more than 40 percent and less than 70 percent of its height. If the kind of Christmas tree is of the genus pinus, (i.e. Scotch pine, or Red pine), then a “normal taper” forms a cone where the base is more than 40 percent and less than 80 percent of its height. A “flaring taper” means the Christmas tree forms a cone, where the base is more than 70 percent of its height, (if the tree is of the genus pinus, the base is more than 80 percent of its height). A “candlestick taper” means that a Christmas tree forms a cone, where the base is less than 40 percent of its height.

Answer 3: Seems Santa knows his chimneys! A dirty chimney can be a fire hazard and under the regulations to the Ontario Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997, known as the Fire Code, every chimney is required to be inspected at least once a year and cleaned as often as necessary to keep them “free from accumulations of combustible deposits” (O.R. 213/07, Division B, Part 2, Section Best not to get Santa mad, or worse, have to explain to the Fire Department, the Fire Marshal’s Office or your insurance company, why you didn’t obey the law!

Answer 4: c) Section 8 of the Currency Act sets out limits on the amount of currency a seller must accept from a buyer depending on the denomination of the currency tendered by the buyer in payment. For example, if one cent coins are tendered the amount of the purchase cannot exceed twenty-five cents. If five cent coins are tendered the amount of the purchase cannot exceed five dollars, etc. However, an agreement between seller and buyer will determine what is acceptable. For example, stores are often glad to accept coins beyond the mandatory amounts, particularly when they are wrapped and labelled.

Answer 5: False. The Consumer Protection Act, 2002, sets out that no gift card shall have an expiry date, and if it does, it shall be effective as if there were no expiry date specified. This section of the Consumer Protection Act is effective as of October 1, 2007. Some exceptions to this rule are gift cards that are issued by a supplier for a charitable purpose, or gift cards that cover only one specific good or service.

Answer 6: Well, even if your Aunt also gave you the purchase receipt, you may not be able to return “old blue eyes”. Consumers often believe that they have an absolute right to return goods to retailers, but there is no such right in our law. Most retailers have a fairly clear policy on returns and some, but not all, will accept returns to promote good customer relations. When making a purchase it is wise to check out the store’s return policy. Provided it is prominently displayed in the store, or printed on the receipt or invoice, that return policy is generally accepted as part of the contract of purchase and sale. While consumers do have legal rights to sue for defective goods, for most consumer purchases the store’s return policy is, for all practical purposes, the rule. Taking into account the current economic downturn, don’t be surprised if retailers are a little more “picky” and a little more “Grinch” like about accepting returns this year. They may even charge a restocking fee.

Answer 7: True. Immediate family members may act as a guarantor for passport purposes, provided that the individual is otherwise eligible.

Answer 8: b) The basis of a legal action in tort is that someone has sustained a loss or harm as the result of some act or failure to act by another person. A successful tort action will result in damages being awarded by a court to the harmed party. This is in contrast to the situation where there is a contract between the parties in which case the action would be based on a breach of contract.

Answer 9: No wonder Mrs. Claus is a little upset – it is a simple question with a complicated answer. First of all, there are some classes of workers who are exempt from special pay for working public holidays- taxi drivers, for instance, as well as special rules for some industries. Then there are union workers who will be governed by the terms of their contract. Most of the rest of the people in Ontario who work Christmas Day or Boxing Day, or both, are covered by the provisions of the Employment Standards Act that deal with holiday pay for the province’s nine public holidays (we used to call them Statutory Holidays). The Act sets out two basic options: the employee can be paid regular wages for the public holiday worked plus be given another day off for each public holiday worked, with “public holiday pay”, or the employee must be paid “premium pay” (what used to be called “time and a half”) plus public holiday pay. Calculating public holiday pay is a bit confusing, and is based on wages and holiday pay accumulated in the four weeks prior to the public holiday, and then there is the ability to reduce payments to lazy Elves who miss the last shift before the holiday or fail to show up for their shift immediately after the holiday and so on. Santa seems to have foreseen the confusion and gives his spouse a new notebook computer already set to go to a website with the answers: www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/es/guide/guide_8.html

Legalese is a column of general information and opinion on legal topics by the lawyers of Rural Legal Services, Box 359, Sharbot Lake, ON, K0H2P0, 613-279-3252, or 1-888-777-8916. This column is not intended to provide legal advice. You should contact a lawyer to determine your legal rights and obligations.

Support local
independant journalism by becoming a patron of the Frontenac News.