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'Freeman on the Land' and challenges to the legality of Council Tax

Information to correct false theories that allege that liability for Council Tax may not apply to all members of the public

‘Freeman on the Land’ and ‘Common Law Court’ theories try to argue that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have ‘consented’ to, and that if they do not ‘consent’ to Council Tax then they are not liable to pay it.

Liability to pay Council Tax arises out of legislation, and alleged rights under common law or contract law are not relevant to the administration and collection of Council Tax.

In the UK, liability for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This statute, created by the democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom which has received the assent of the Crown and subsequent statutory regulations, sets out local authorities’ rights to demand Council Tax to fund services, and determines who is liable to pay. Some further legal information is below.

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 assertion to the contrary is incorrect: there is no legal basis upon which to make this argument.

Where Council Tax is not paid without reasonable justification, the Council’s approach is to bring proceedings in the Magistrates Court, and to take all necessary enforcement actions including the use of Enforcement Agents where appropriate. In extreme cases this could lead to bankruptcy proceedings or even a prison sentence – in 2015, Manchester Magistrates Court sentenced a person who had argued that the 'freeman on the land' theory excused them from paying Council Tax to 40 days’ prison. 

Please contact the Council if you have any concerns over your liability for Council Tax. Please note, however, that while we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we are required to use our resources responsibly in the interests of the public at large. We reserve the right to limit our response to lengthy or spurious enquiries.

If you remain concerned about your Council Tax liability, please seek independent legal advice or contact the Citizens Advice Bureau. The Council strongly advises anyone wishing to rely only on internet sources for challenging their Council Tax to exercise caution, given the risk of fraud and criminal sanctions for failure to pay.

Legislation and Legal Questions

The legislation that governs Council Tax is freely available from the government website See in particular:

The Council will not answer general questions about the application of the law and your legal rights – such as whether Acts and Statutes are an obligation on a resident, or and about the difference between a Statute and Law. You would need to direct questions such as this to a legal professional.

Council Tax in the Borough of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk

The Council sets Council Tax levels for each year at its meeting in February. You can find copies of the agenda papers and minutes for these meetings, and information on how Council Tax is calculated and spent, via the following links: