Freeman on the Land

We get many queries and questions about Freeman on the Land/Common Law. This information should help with any questions you may have.

The Freeman on the Land movement and similar Common Law groups 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, enforcement and collection of Council Tax.

The position in law is that you do not have a choice as to whether you are liable for Council Tax and saying you are a 'Freeman on the Land' or a member of a Common Law Group does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax. Freeman on the Land arguments have previously been considered and ruled against by the courts.

Liability for Council Tax

Who is liable for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992 ("The Act") and the Regulations made under it.

This statute was created by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown. The Act and subsequent statutory regulations set out a Local Authority's rights to levy and collect Council Tax to fund its services.

Liability for Council Tax is not dependent on, and does not require, consent or the existence of a contractual relationship with the Council. Any claim to the contrary is incorrect and there is no legal basis upon which to make this argument.

The issue of a Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) creates the debt. There is no need for a signature, either digital or ‘wet ink’ (physically signing a document), or an agreement from a resident for council tax liability as it is a tax, not a contract.

Any liable person who withholds payment will have enforcement action taken against them. This can include attachment to benefits or earnings, or case referral to enforcement agents. As a last resort, a Local Authority can also make an petition to the County Court for bankruptcy and/or make an application to place a charging order against a property to secure the debt owed.

In extreme cases non-payment could lead to a prison sentence. The Courts considered this and dismissed ‘freeman on the land’ defences’ in Manchester Magistrates Court v McKenzie (2015) – the individual was imprisoned for 40 days. 

On occasion, some people do convince themselves that using an old law means they do not have to pay Council Tax. Unfortunately, there are many misleading articles and templates online or in leaflets, regarding the legality of Council Tax. Please seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability based on contract, consent and common law.

Below are the main items of legislation that cover the administration and collection of Council Tax:

Our Council Tax team will do their 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 and which use our resources at the expense of other taxpayers.