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‘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 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.

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.

Relevant Cases

In the Manchester Magistrates’ Court v McKenzie (2015) case, an individual who attempted to use similar ‘freeman on the land’ defences in court ended up in prison for 40 days. 

In Leighton v Bristow & Sutor (2023) the High Court confirmed that extracts from a “court list” paired with a signature certifying the number of Liability Orders made led the Judge to conclude that the Liability Orders have indeed been made.  The case found that the wording of the Enforcement Agents Authority to Act was technically incorrect as it implied that the Authority to Act presented to the debtor gave the authority to take control of goods rather than the act (Schedule 12 to the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 and all Regulations made under it.)

In Kofa v Oldham (2024) a High Court case which addressed the arguments of no contract/consent given to pay council tax and the requirement for the issue of written Liability Orders/Court Orders. 

This case confirmed that laws are considered binding, made by an elected Parliament on behalf of the whole country, therefore, no individual contract is required, and it is both “impossible and inappropriate” to gain individual consent.

The Judge went on to confirm that Magistrates Courts do not produce or serve paper orders and are not required to do so.  The only requirement is that the order is made (i.e. by the court pronouncing it is making it) and the fact that it was made can be proved, thus a paper order is unnecessary.

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 government website, including:-

Local Government Finance Act 1992

Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992

Council Tax (Demand Notices) (England) Regulations 2011

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.

For those relying on copied articles from the likes of Facebook using arguments based on Notice of Conditional Acceptance, including those quoting the Magna Carta 1215, Halsbury’s Laws of England, Misprision of Treason and threats that ‘ignorance is no defence in law’ etc. They should be aware these arguments have no legal basis with which to support non-payment of council tax. Such arguments are not accepted by the council and will not result in the halting or withdrawal of legal action to recover outstanding council tax charges.

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 questions (FAQs) and additional information.

Help and Information

Useful information and help with council tax liability is available online and over the phone.

Citizens Advice

Phone 0800 144 8848




National Debtline

Phone: 0808 808 4000


Contact us - Council tax

0345 302 2313
(Text phone users add 18001 before dialing)

South Oxfordshire District Council
Po Box 872