Santa in the Courts

Even though it is rather green in Halifax, (we had a very seasonal holiday fog last night, I’m not sure if it was a salty fog), we are indeed heading down the homestretch towards the arrival of St. Nick. Wanting to inject a little seasonal spirit into Slaw I undertook a cursory survey to see how Santa has done in Canadian courts. To be honest, there wasn’t a lot of good material, HOWEVER, I did find one case which I present to you now:
Community Funding Corp. v. Newfoundland (Department of Government Services and Lands), 2004 NLTD 236, 243 NFLD & PEIR 255.

A very Christmasy case from NL, whereby Santa made a seasonal visit to a Bingo Hall in St. John’s and in keeping with his reputation… From para 2 of the case:

Santa Claus made an appearance at the bingo hall and called two games of bingo. In keeping with his reputation and the spirit of the season, Santa Claus took it upon himself to increase the prizes for the two games in question – one by $100, and the other by $75 – thus increasing the total prize payout for the evening to $3,175.

To continue from para 6

Accordingly, on December 22, 2003, Santa Claus appeared as expected and was wildly cheered by some 275 happy patrons. …the manager of the bingo hall, invited Santa to “call” two games of bingo. Initially, Santa gave away some bingo ‘dabbers’ supplied by the hall; but before calling the game, and without any warning to [the manager], Santa ‘upped’ the jackpot of the first game by $75 to $200. [the manager] was not prepared to risk the wrath of the patrons by going to the stage and announcing that Santa had exceeded his jurisdiction by raising the jackpot. The game proceeded. Emboldened, Santa then announced, before calling his second game, that the jackpot would be increased by $100 to $200. Again, [the manager] allowed the game to continue.

So yada, yada the Department of Government Services and Lands didn’t exactly have the Christmas spirt that year, para 3

A complaint was filed with the provincial regulator, who, following an investigation, concluded that the excess payout constituted a breach of subsection 4(a) of the Lottery Regulations – “… if on reasonable and probable grounds it is believed that the conduct and management of a lottery is likely to reflect unfavourably upon the integrity of the lotter-ies program; …” The regulator suspended the Corporation’s bingo licence for one week.

At the end of the day the spirt of the season won out and in para 77 the Judge ruled,

The regulation, as presently worded, is an elephant gun; it is not an appropriate weapon with which to dispatch the Christmas mouse.

….and to all a good night!


  1. Well Santa is at the centre of a bog First Amendment fight in Maine concerning allegedly offensive beer labels.

    Maine’s Bureau of Liquor Enforcement banned the sales of “Santa’s Butt Winter Porter” and two other beers whose labels were deemed “undignified or improper.” A portrait of Santa Claus on a beer label and images of bare-breasted women on two others are the subject of a First Amendment lawsuit filed in federal court last week by the Maine Civil Liberties Union.

    “Anytime we get to defend Santa Claus, we jump at the chance,” MCLU staff attorney Zachary Heiden told

    I hesitate to link to the shocking image, so you’ll have to click

    Santa Beer

  2. Just so everyone understands, the “butt” referred to is the barrel, right? I think the Globe this morning had a piece on the same beer which had encountered trouble in some eastern U.S. state because it might lead children to drink.

  3. I’m thinking that image would lead children *not* to drink!