Key UK laws Ukrainians arriving in the UK need to know

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These are civil laws, which settle disputes between individuals, and criminal law which is upheld by the police and covers crime and punishment.

Here are some of England’s key civil laws:


Anyone can marry whomever they want unless they are closely related (e.g. sibling, half sibling or aunt/uncle) or are already married.

People of the same gender can marry each other.

Either partner can apply for a divorce. If the couple is unable to agree the terms of the divorce, the courts will decide them.


The law protects both employers and employees. If an employer asks you to do things you did not agree to in a contract, you can challenge this.

Consumer rights

If a company does not provide the service or product you paid for, you can challenge this.


Any dispute between a tenant and landlord will be settled through Civil Law. As a tenant you should be fully aware of your rights.

Here are some of England’s key criminal laws:


It is illegal to kill or injure another person or group of people, and this can be punished severely. Violent offences which are against UK law include forced sexual contact or behaviour and domestic violence between family members in the home.

You cannot buy or possess a firearm without a licence.

Carrying a knife in public is also punishable.

Racist and religious hate crime

Criminal behaviour such as violence, verbal abuse, bullying or damage to property is hate crime if it is carried out because of race or religion. This can include where the victim is believed to be of a particular religion or race, or where their partner or friend is.

It is also illegal to encourage religious or racial hatred.


The age of consent (when it is legal) for two people to have sex is 16, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.


It is illegal to possess, transport or distribute certain controlled drugs.


It is legal for adults over 18 to purchase and consume alcohol.


It is illegal to smoke indoors in most public areas such as shops, restaurants, bars.

It is illegal to sell tobacco to anyone under the age of 18.

In England it is also illegal to smoke in vehicles with passengers under 18.


It is illegal to drive without a driving licence. You can learn to drive from 17 years of age and you

must pass a driving test in order to obtain a driving licence.

It is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

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