Freeman on the Land and 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 cannot legally opt out of paying
You do not have a choice as to 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.
There is no contract involved
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.
Council Tax Legislation
The legislation that covers council tax is freely available from the Government Legislation website including:
Local Government Finance Act 1992
The Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
The Council Tax (Demand Notices) Regulations 2011
Acts and Statues
Some residents have asked whether Acts and Statues 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 are contacted by 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.
Whilst we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about council tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute which use our resources at the expense of other taxpayers.
Every person has the right to challenge and appeal their council tax liability. Any appeal should initially be in writing. You must explain what you are appealing against and give reasons why you are appealing. If you remain dissatisfied, you have the right to appeal to the Valuation Tribunal Service.
If you do not pay, we will take action to recover the debt
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.
Common 'freeman' requests and statements about the legality of Council Tax
The Council has a responsibility to bill and collect Council Tax. Here are some of the most common questions or requests we receive about the legality of Council Tax.
Can the Local Authority provide an autographed lawful contract 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.
Can the Local Authority 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. Individual agreement of this is not necessary.
Can the Local Authority 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.
Can the Local Authority 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.
Can the Local Authority 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.
Can you provide evidence where I have given my consent authorising Stockton Borough Council to hold my data?
Under Regulation 8 of the Data Protection Act 2018 the Authority does not require consent to process data that is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in exercise of the controllers official for the exercise of a function conferred by an enactment or rule of law. The billing and collection of Council Tax is conferred on the Authority by the legislation stated previously. This is in keeping with Article 6 (c) and (e) of the GDPR regulations.
Can you provide evidence of which companies Stockton Borough Council has shared personal data with?
Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for the Council Tax department to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations)
Public task: the processing is necessary for the Council Tax department to perform a task in the public interest or for our official functions and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council complies with all relevant legislation with regard to the billing and collection of Council Tax. If you believe the Authority has acted incorrectly, you must follow the dispute processes laid down in that legislation. The Data Protection Act 2018 gives individuals a right to access and receive a copy of their personal information, and any supplementary information. Exercising your right to access your personal information is not a process to instigate a dispute or complaint nor is it a process to ask questions about anything other than your personal information.
Further information about data sharing can be found at:
Privacy Notice - General Council
Privacy Notice - Revenues and Benefits
Can the Local Authority provide a true bill that complies with the Bills of exchanges Act 1882?
We follow legislation according to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992
If a liability order is granted without my presence, consent and opportunity to bring all of the above to the attention of those concerned and involved I will have no choice but to seek lawful advice with regards to proceeding with a claim for fraud against those involved.
If you have a dispute regarding the granting of a Liability Order against you then you need to take this up with the Magistrates Court. You will need to explain why you feel Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council have not followed the correct process and apply for your liability order to be set aside.
Where a liability order was granted, I require a copy of the liability order for which notice of liability order was received
Following the Magistrates' Court Hearing at which Liability Orders are granted, a full list of those granted is produced. The list contains the names and addresses of those charge payers against who an order was granted together with the amount they owe. This list is produced electronically and an electronic copy is kept by both the Local Authority and the Magistrates' Court in which the orders were granted.
The granting of a Liability Order is a legal process and is not a document and as such cannot be evidenced in the form of a document.
The authority to issue Liability Orders was removed in 2003 and never replaced.
Regulations 3 & 4 of the Council Tax (Administration& Enforcement) Regulations 1992 were amended which included an amendment to the Prescribed Forms, but the law did not remove Liability Orders.
I'm a Freeman on the Land and I am not liable.
Being a Freeman on the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore.
Can the Local Authority provide VAT details/VAT invoice
It should be noted, Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice. Our VAT number is 259088523.
Can the Local Authority state whether you are a company or a corporation.
Stockton on Tees Borough Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.