Freeman on the land - Council Tax legality


The Council has recently seen the number of queries and questions about 'Freeman on the Land' rise and therefore we wish to clearly explain the position on this subject.

Freeman on the Land movement and similar 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. Council Tax is not a charge for individual services provided. It is a statutory tax on occupiers (and some owners) of homes in the council's area. The money collected goes into a central fund so the Council can provide essential services to benefit the borough as a whole.

You cannot legally opt out of paying

The 'Freeman on the land' movement and similar groups believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. This is incorrect - you cannot choose which laws to obey and which to ignore. Being a 'freeman' does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax.

Some residents have questioned whether they are obliged to abide by Acts and Statutes and about the difference between a Statute and Law and other similar questions regarding legal matters. In essence, Acts of Parliaments are Statutes which set out the law; however, if you have questions regarding Acts of Parliament or laws, these should be directed to a legal professional, not the council.

There are many misleading websites, articles and templates on the internet about the legality of Council Tax. You should seek independent legal advice before using them as a defence against Council Tax liability.

There is no contract involved

Some residents believe that to be liable for Council Tax, there needs to be a signed legal contract agreeing to this. This is incorrect. In the UK, liability for Council Tax is determined by the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This gives local authorities the right to demand Council Tax which is used to fund essential local services. Individual agreement of this is not necessary. Any reference to the Companies Act, Contracts Act, Bills of Exchange Act or other acts regarding companies or contracts is irrelevant to the liability of council tax.

Sending out the bill creates the debt

As soon as the Council Tax Demand Notice (the bill) is sent, the debt is created. There is no need for a signature or agreement from the resident.

If you do not pay, we will take action to recover the debt

The enforcement actions which can be used are:

  • Issue an attachment of earning order
  • Request the Department of Work and Pensions to take deductions from relevant benefits paid
  • Use enforcement agents
  • Apply for a charging order
  • Commence bankruptcy proceedings

In extreme cases this could 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 '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 independent legal advice.

We do not need consent to collect unpaid Council Tax charges.

Council Tax legislation

Acts and statutes

Acts of Parliament are statutes which set out the law. You can read more about Acts of Parliament on the UK Parliament website.

How your Council Tax is spent

Each year we publish details about your Council Tax and how it is spent in the Council Tax booklet on this page .

How to correctly challenge and appeal your Council Tax bill

You have the right to challenge and appeal your council tax bill if you feel that any of the following apply:

  • You should not be liable for Council Tax
  • You believe your property should be exempt
  • The amount charged is incorrect
  • Your Council Tax Support is calculated incorrectly
  • You consider a penalty has been applied incorrectly

Any appeal should initially be made in writing to the council.

You must explain what you are appealing against and give the reasons why. The council will consider the reasons for your appeal and respond in writing. If you remain dissatisfied, you have a further right of appeal to an independent tribunal:

  • Within 2 months of being notified of the council’s decision
  • Or 2 months from your initial appeal, if no decision is made within that time

Making an appeal does not allow you to withhold payment or part payment of Council Tax; however, if your appeal is successful, any overpayment will be credited to your Council Tax account or refunded.

You also have the right to appeal against your council tax, providing certain criteria exists.


We do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax. Enquiries can be made here.  However, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to long queries focusing on hypothetical arguments with no basis in the law. North Tyneside Council will not consider any correspondence related to the avoidance of paying Council Tax that relies on these groups or any similar inaccurate arguments that have no legal basis.