‘Freeman on the Land’ and challenges to the legality of Council Tax
The 'Freeman on the Land' movement and similar groups commonly believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. However, contract law and alleged rights under common law are not the same as legislation relating to the administration and collection of Council Tax.
You do not have a choice whether you are liable for Council Tax and being a 'freeman' does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax.
In the UK, liability for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This statute, created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown and subsequent statutory regulations, sets out a local authority's rights to demand Council Tax to fund services and who is liable to pay.
Your liability for Council Tax is not dependent on, and does not require, your consent or the existence of a contractual relationship with the council. Any such assertion to the contrary is incorrect and there is no legal basis upon which to make this argument.
Anyone who withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them.
In extreme cases this could even lead to committal proceedings, or even a prison sentence, as in the Manchester Magistrates' court vs McKenzie (2015) case, where an individual who attempted to use similar 'freeman on the land' defences in court ended up in prison for 40 days.
If you have any concerns over the charging of Council Tax, please seek proper legal advice, rather than relying on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.
The legislation that covers Council Tax is freely available from the UK government Legislation website, including:
- Local Government Finance Act 1992 - on the UK Legislation website
- Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 - on the UK Legislation website
- Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011 - on the UK Legislation website
Some residents have asked whether Acts and Statutes are an obligation on them, and about the difference between a Statute and Law and other similar questions regarding legal matters. Acts of Parliaments are Statutes which set out the law:
If you have questions regarding other Acts of Parliament or laws, these should be directed to a legal professional, not the council.
Very occasionally we get people who are convinced that using an archaic law means they don't have to pay Council Tax and there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax. Anyone drawing on these for advice should exercise caution and seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.
While we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy spurious enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute which use our resources at the expense of other taxpayers.
Common 'freeman' questions (FAQs) and additional information
The Councils have a responsibility to bill and collect Council Tax, but this does not mean it introduces a fiduciary relationship.
Some common questions received:
Provide an autographed lawful contract with you, with both of our autographs
Some residents consider that Council Tax is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement. As already explained, Council Tax is a creature of statute, and a contract is not required. Therefore, any reference to the Companies Act, Contracts Act, Bills of Exchange Act or other acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant.
A variation of this question is “Please provide evidence that I've agreed with you that you can lawfully collect an alleged debt from me.” Again, this is inconsequential, as there hasn't been an exchange of contracts or agreement. Neither is required for the levy and recovery of Council Tax.
Provide evidence that I am lawfully obliged to pay Council Tax
The hierarchy of who is considered to be the liable party is contained in the Local Government Finance Act 1992 c14 Part 1, Chapter 1, Sections 6-9 (on the UK Legislation website). Individual agreement of this is not necessary.
Provide evidence that you have the lawful and contractual authority to use the legal fictional name of “XXX” for the purposes of making money
Whether a name is legal or fictional is irrelevant for the purposes of Council Tax. Council Tax is charged and is payable by whoever the liable party is, which is determined by reference to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992.
Provide confirmation the debt exists lawfully
The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for Council Tax, it is a tax, not a contract.
Provide documents containing a wet ink signature
As covered above, a signature is not necessary for the billing of Council Tax and no wet ink signature is mandatory on a court summons either. Previous case law has clarified that the use of a rubber stamp or electronic signature are both valid for the purpose of the court signing a summons.
I'm a Freeman of the Land and am not liable
Being a Freeman of the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore.
Granting of a Liability Order
Rule 115(6) of the Magistrates Court Rules states that ''Service of orders'' does not apply to liability orders, therefore, the court (or Council) do not need to serve a copy of the Liability Order granted by the Magistrate Court.
Please send us your VAT details/provide a VAT invoice
It should be noted, Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice.
- Adur District Council VAT number is: 191 5693 35
- Worthing Borough Council VAT number is: 193 6243 49
Please state whether you are a company or a corporation
Worthing Borough Council and Adur District Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.
Very occasionally we get people that have been convinced that using an archaic law means they don't have to pay Council Tax and there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Council Tax. Anyone drawing on these for advice should exercise caution and seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.
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Page last updated: 01 December 2022