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Challenges to the legality of paying 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

The Freeman on the Land movement and similar groups’ enquiries are becoming more frequent in attempt to avoid paying Council Tax. They 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

Liability for council tax

Council Tax liability in the UK 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.

Council tax pays for the services administered by Dudley MBC. Without this, we could not provide essential services or help those in need.

Further details on spending can be found on our website:

Council Tax liability is not dependent on, and does not require, the 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.

The following references also have no legal basis:

  • A person not having consented to pay council tax.

  • There not being a contractual relationship between the council and the resident.

  • Lawful rebellion.

  • Article 61 of the Magna Carta.

  • The Coronation Oath Act 1688.

  • The ‘People’s peace’.

  • Legal fictions, ‘straw men’ and ‘I, X of the family Y’.

  • Common Law Court of Great Britain and International.

  • Maritime or admiralty law.

  • Uniform commercial code.

Withholding payments of council tax

Where Council Tax payments are withheld, recovery action will be taken to recover the debt.

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 was imprisoned 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.

Challenge or appeal your council tax liability

There is a separate and legal process to challenge or appeal your council tax liability. Any appeal should initially be made to

The appeal will be considered based on legislation. If you remain dissatisfied, you have a further right of appeal to an independent Valuation Tribunal.

If you think your valuation is wrong you can challenge your band by contacting the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). If you challenge your band, you must continue to pay council tax at your current band until your appeal is decided.


The legislation that covers council tax is freely available from the government website, including:

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.

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. This includes letters and notices served on the council’s chief executive with the same misleading reasoning.

Common ‘freeman’ questions

The council has a responsibility to bill and collect council tax, but this does not mean it introduces a fiduciary relationship.

Some common questions and claims received are answered below:

Can you provide an autographed lawful contract with both of our signatures?

Some residents consider that council tax is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement.

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 irrelevant, as there hasn’t been an exchange of contracts or agreement. Neither is required for the levy and recovery of council tax.

Can you 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 you 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 you 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 you 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.

Summonses no longer require a signature of any sort, including electronic ones

I’m a Freeman of the Land and am not liable

Being a Freeman of the Land does not mean you can choose which laws to adhere and which to ignore.

Can you please send us your VAT details/provide a VAT invoice?

It should be noted, council tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice.

Can you please state whether you are a company or a corporation?

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.

Further advice

Anyone drawing Freeman on the Land movement and similar groups’ websites and forums 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.