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In a question asking Are the teachers at Hogwarts ever publicly intoxicated?, one answer pointed out that Slughorn had offered alcohol to 17-year old Ron. In the comments, there was a bit of a discussion about England's drinking age laws (where drinking alcohol under age 18 is only permitted if in a licensed establishment when served with a meal, or with an adult in the privacy of your home).

I don't want to debate drinking age law, but it made me wonder: do British Muggle laws such as drinking age even apply to the British wizarding world at all? If so, does the Ministry of Magic have a responsibility to prosecute violations of such laws?

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    Highly unlikely, since you become of age in the Muggle world at 18, whereas you do so in the Wizarding world at 17. Technically, Ron was not underage at the time (since it was on his 17th birthday), so it wouldn't have been underage drinking in the Wizarding world even if there were such a law. – BMWurm Dec 9 '15 at 21:33
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    Using air space (i.e. anything flying over a certain level from the ground) needs some permission from air traffic control (either commercial or military). Flying brooms (and cars) would break the British law. – ypercubeᵀᴹ Dec 9 '15 at 21:38
  • Considering that the Muggle Prime Minister is aware of the Wizarding World, that the Wizarding World has it's own prison, court, etc... - it seems likely that there is some sort of arrangement that the Wizarding World and government is like a meta-Vatican in the Muggle World -within it geographically but entirely its own recognized and autonomous entity. – NKCampbell Dec 9 '15 at 21:43
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    Duplicate? scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/73227/… – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 10 '15 at 1:46
  • @DVK, that is definitely a similar question, but there are certainly some laws that would not be in conflict. This also has the follow-up question about if the Ministry of Magic must enforce Muggle laws. – Thunderforge Dec 10 '15 at 5:25
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No, they don’t seem to.

The J.K. Rowling Pottermore writing on measurements states that wizards are not governed by the decisions of the Muggle government. While choices in measurements aren’t the type of laws that anyone would be prosecuted for not following, it likely applies to other laws as well.

Just as British witches and wizards do not use electricity or computers, they have never turned metric. They are not governed by the decisions of the Muggle government, so when the process of metrication (switching to metric measurements) began in 1965, witches and wizards simply ignored the change.
Measurements (Pottermore)

The statement that wizards are not governed by the decisions of the Muggle government most likely applies to all of Muggle law - presumably what is considered illegal for wizards is solely decided by the Ministry of Magic. It seems highly unlikely that if the Ministry of Magic would accept responsibility for prosecuting violators of a Muggle law they consider useless or contradictory to wizarding law.

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There is nothing to suggest magical folk are automatically subject to Muggle laws.

The issue of Muggle law is, as far as I know, never raised in canon. As such, this answer is almost entirely speculation.


Magical folk should probably avoid actively flaunting Muggle laws, particularly if it’s going to attract unwanted attention. But if you get involved with the Muggle police, I wouldn’t expect help from the Ministry; unless your arrest poses a risk to secrecy or security. (And if so, expect appropriate punishment when you’re back in the Ministry.)

It’s unlikely the Ministry is interested in policing Muggle laws. A few things to consider:

  • They have no role in writing them. The supreme court in the (British) wizarding world is the Wizengamot, who have nothing to do with Muggle politicians or judges. Why should laws made by people with no connection or involvement to the magical world be taken as authoritative?

  • Many of them are irrelevant. Magical society is very different to Muggles – both in terms of size and demographics. Entire swathes of Muggle law don’t make sense in the magical community, because they’re related to constructs the Ministry has no interest or say in.

    (For example, taxation in the magical world will be separate to Muggles. The Ministry won’t care if you fiddle your Muggle tax bill, as long as it isn’t causing them a problem.)

  • They have laws of their own. The Ministry is writing its own laws, via the Wizengamot. Many of these may overlap with Muggle laws (e.g. don’t murder, don’t steal) or affect interactions with Muggles (don’t perform magic with a Muggle), but they are distinct laws. [Edit: Much of this overlap probably stems from the time when Muggles and magical folk co-existed. In that sense they’re subject to Muggle law – but they’re not automatically bound by new laws.]

    They’ll be more interested in enforcing these laws – and that alone probably keeps their hands full.

    Consider also that magical laws may contradict Muggle laws. (For example, you come of age at 17 in the magical world, 18 for Muggles.) How do you handle somebody who falls in a weird edge case that’s legal under one law, illegal under the other? And so on.

It’s easier if you write off all Muggle law, leave that to the Muggle police, and only administer your own separate laws.

  • I suspect you might be almost completely wrong, largely based on the fact that wizarding society only hived off from muggle society a few hundred years before. If you look at other comparable colonies (America, India, etc) you see that their legal traditions (and laws) are about 98% the same as UK law, with a few relatively minor changes overlaid onto their statute books. – Valorum Dec 9 '15 at 21:59
  • @Richard was going to raise this point. I think the constructs would be based off of Muggle laws but I don't think the current modern laws effect wizards. – CandiedMango Dec 9 '15 at 22:32
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Based on the Ministers for Magic article on Pottermore I'd have to say No.

The Muggle Prime Minister has no part in appointing the Minister for Magic, whose election is a matter only for the magical community themselves. All matters relating to the magical community in Britain are managed solely by the Minister for Magic, and he has sole jurisdiction over his Ministry. Emergency visits to the Muggle Prime Minister by the Minister for Magic are announced by a portrait of Ulick Gamp (first Minister for Magic) that hangs in the Muggle Prime Minister's study in number 10 Downing Street

I would presume that this jurisdiction extends over the entirety of Witches and Wizards, from all the conversations we witness between the Muggle PM and the MoM it would seem that the PM is not involved in anything.

We also get more details on Ulick Gamp:

Minister: Ulick Gamp
Term of Office: 1707 - 1718
Previously head of the Wizengamot, Gamp had the onerous job of policing a fractious and frightened community adjusting to the imposition of the International Statute of Secrecy. His greatest legacy was to found the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

Notice that he founded the Department of Magical Law Enforcement.

I would however say that Muggle Laws (at least pre Muggle Magic separation) will have influenced Magical Laws.

As an example look at Sirius, he killed 10 muggles (as well as Pettigrew) and the muggles didn't interfere, he is punished solely inside the Magical Community.

  • In your Sirius example, only because a muggle coroner would rule the deaths as accidental - apparently caused by a gas explosion. If a wizard went around murdering people in a way muggles could detect either the MoM would have to do a lot of memory charms, cover up any evidence so the muggles never solve the case, or present their own investigation as some muggle "special-branch" so everyone's satisfied with the outcome. – OrangeDog Apr 19 '18 at 11:30
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Probably not (at least in film canon).

In the Order of the Phoenix film, a book appears in Dumbledore's office entitled Muggle 'Law and Order': a Complete Guide.

screenshot

The fact that "Law and Order" appears in quotation marks suggests very strongly that the Muggle legal system does not apply to the wizarding world.

It's just about possible that some critics of the system had written a book which refers to Muggle laws in sneering terms, as though they're not real laws, even though wizards are also required to follow them. I could imagine an eccentric like Dumbledore possessing such a book. But this is very unlikely, partly because wizards wouldn't be required to follow all Muggle laws, as mentioned in the excellent answer by @alexwlchan.

  • Books in the film are not the same, I've never once heard a wizard talk about science yet we have this: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/52698/… – CandiedMango Dec 10 '15 at 0:09
  • @CandiedMango True, but the OP here doesn't specify books or films, so this is a valid answer! – Rand al'Thor Dec 10 '15 at 0:19
  • Props be propping yo. If the OP deems it so shall it be accepted! – CandiedMango Dec 10 '15 at 0:20
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    Maybe they're the transcripts for the Muggle TV show? – HorusKol Dec 10 '15 at 1:46
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Clearly, not all (I can't think of any that are explicitly apply). HP Lexicon has a list of all Ministry Wizard laws they compiled, and precious few (well, none) Muggle laws are included.

  • Every wizard walks around armed with a deadly weapon

  • Mind altering drugs (e.g. love potions) are freely available

  • Knight Bus violates any and all driving rules and regulations

  • International travel doesn't seem to involve Muggle visas or passports, so immigration laws are ignored

  • Child endangerment laws... well.... *cough* Hogwarts *cough*

  • Pretty clearly, Harry doesn't pay Muggle taxes. Nor does anyone else

  • Duels to the death seem to be permitted (McGonagle threatened Slughorn with one)


Having said that, some muggle laws just plain out make sense in game-theoretical way and thus are clearly in effect in Wizarding world on their own:

  • There's no stealing or murder permitted

  • You can't cheat at sporting events (no Felix Felicis)

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    "Every wizard walks around armed with a deadly weapon" - that's par for the course for Muggles in the US, right? ;-) – Rand al'Thor Dec 10 '15 at 1:58
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    @randal'thor - Not in less civilized areas like NY. Here only criminals are. – DVK-on-Ahch-To Dec 10 '15 at 2:57
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    I vaguely recall Felix Felicis, or similar advantage enhancements, being specifically outlawed in Quidditch rules. So that may be a wizarding law. – Thunderforge Dec 10 '15 at 5:31
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I added this as a comment at the same time as Alexwlchan - but I think my main point is cogent enough to justify adding as an actual answer since it is the one bit of canon that we do know:

Considering that the Muggle Prime Minister is aware of the Wizarding World, it seems likely that there is some sort of arrangement that the Wizarding World and government is similar to the Vatican in the Muggle World: within it geographically but entirely its own recognized and autonomous entity.

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    It's not at all clear what the prefix "meta-" means here. Did you mean "quasi-"? – user14111 Dec 9 '15 at 21:55
  • You raise a really important cannon point. But I'm drawing the opposite conclusion Nate. If the PM knows it stands to reason other high level people know as well. I.e. Who tells the new PM? But I'd venture to suggest the Muggle powers are only too happy to leave those crazy wizards to their own devices. Imagine one getting POed at a Muggle judge. Zap! – Athena Widget Dec 9 '15 at 23:07
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    @AthenaWidget according to Half-Blood Prince, nobody tells the Muggle PM except the Minister for Magic - ""The Minister of Magic only reveals him--or herself to the Muggle Prime Minister of the day. We find it the best way to maintain secrecy." - Cornelius Fudge harrypotter.wikia.com/wiki/Prime_minister Additionally, it is likely (although not said) that the outgoing Prime Minister gets a memory loss charm cast on them to make them forget the Wizarding world – NKCampbell Dec 9 '15 at 23:33
  • Got it. Then the Ministry of Magic is really part of the British govt. I see your point. – Athena Widget Dec 9 '15 at 23:49
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I also agree that some wizard actions do correspond with UK law due to the enactment of Dumbledore's last will and testament which happens in the muggle world when someone passes away all items are passed to the names in the will

  • Is this evidence that muggle law applies in the Wizarding world or the Wizarding world borrowed laws from the muggle world? – Edlothiad Apr 19 '18 at 10:34

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