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Reckless Santa could cause yuletide chaos, warn experts

Santa Claus has been accused of putting his life and the lives of others at risk through breaches of health and safety laws. Brandy-loving present-giver Claus behaves recklessly and in direct contravention of UK legislation, experts said.12 Dec 2007

Claus, also known as Father Christmas, delivers presents to the nation's children by landing a sleigh on the roofs of houses and climbing down chimneys to deliver sack-loads of gifts. He is understood to use letterboxes for entry to houses without chimneys.

Health and safety law expert Fiona Clarke of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind OUT-LAW.COM, said that he could well be in breach of the law.

"Santa's yuletide operations clearly come within the Work at Height Regulations 2005," said Clarke. "Working at height should be avoided where possible, but if it is absolutely necessary then Santa should at least make sure his sleigh has guardrails to prevent a fall and a fall arrest system installed so that if he does fall he is protected."

Those whom Claus visits also have obligations though, warned Clarke. "Householders should be aware of occupiers' liability – if Santa is coming to your home then you have a duty to take reasonable steps to make sure he is not injured," she said. "Make sure your roof is safe and that the chimney is clear so that he doesn't injure himself on the way down."

Concern has also been raised at Claus's brandy intake, which switches to whisky in Scotland. Claus visits houses on a nine-reindeer sleigh which flies through the air, despite the ingestion of a glass of spirits in each of the UK's 25 million households in one evening.

"The alcohol restrictions are the same for every pilot whether you are flying a light aircraft or a 747," a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) told OUT-LAW.COM. "It is 20 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, which is nothing, basically, a trace. One brandy probably would put you over that limit."

"These are the rules for pilots in the UK, every country has its own and Lapland may have different requirements," said the spokesman.

There are also flying height restrictions which Claus is in clear breach of. Aircraft must not fly lower than 1,000 feet in major conurbations, according to the CAA. Claus consistently does this as he flits from roof to roof.