Council Tax legality and 'Freeman of the land'

In the UK, liability to pay Council Tax arises under the provisions of the Local Government Finance Act 1992. This statute has been passed by a democratically elected Parliament of the United Kingdom and has received the assent of the Crown. This, together with subsequent statutory regulations, sets out a local authority's right to demand Council Tax to fund services within that local authority’s area and to determine who is liable to pay the tax.

Council Tax is a tax on domestic properties in England, Scotland and Wales. It is not a direct charge for services provided.

With the revenue that is raised by Council Tax, Cheshire East Council funds various essential and other services including waste collection and recycling, planning and building control, road maintenance, education administration, libraries and leisure facilities, health and social care, Council and democracy.

The amount of Council Tax collected is paid into a central fund to enable the Council to provide services for the benefit of all the people living in the council’s area.

The Freeman of the Land movement and similar groups commonly believe that people are only bound by the contracts and laws they have consented to. However, contractual law and alleged rights under common law are subject to statute law as passed by the Crown in Parliament. All subjects of the Crown must comply with legislation passed by Parliament. Payment of Council Tax is not optional, nor is it contingent upon either the consent of the council taxpayer or the existence of a contractual relationship with the Council.

Residents do not have a choice as to whether they are liable for Council Tax and being a 'freeman' does not exempt anyone from paying Council Tax.

Withholding payment of my Council Tax

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 received a prison sentence of 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.

Council Tax legislation 

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. The Courts interpret those laws. 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 do not 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, spurious enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in law which use Council resources at the expense of other taxpayers.

Common questions or requests about the legality of Council Tax

Here are the most common questions or requests we receive about the legality of Council Tax:

Provide an autographed lawful contract with you, with both of our signatures

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. 

Provide evidence that I am lawfully obliged to pay Council Tax

The hierarchy of who is the party liable to pay Council Tax is contained in the Local Government Finance Act 1992 c14 Part 1, Chapter 1, Sections 6-9. Individual agreement of this liability is not necessary or relevant. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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

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

Send us your VAT details/provide a VAT invoice

Council Tax is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice. 

State whether you are a company or a corporation

Cheshire East Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number. 

Evidence where I have given my consent authorising Cheshire East 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 the exercise of the controller’s official 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.

Provide evidence of which companies with which Cheshire East Council has shared personal data

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. That task is to collect money on behalf of the Local Authority.

Cheshire East 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. A Subject Access Request permits you the right to ask about your personal data that is held by an organisation. It is not a process to instigate a dispute or complaint nor is it a process to ask questions about anything other than your personal data.

Further information on data sharing can be found at Cheshire East Council privacy notice

Provide a true bill that complies with the Bills of Exchanges Act 1882

The Council follows legislation according to the Local Government Finance Act 1992 and Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992. Further, a Demand for the payment of Council Tax is not a negotiable instrument capable of being transferred from one person to another by delivery and, therefore, the Bills of Exchanges Act 1982 has no applicability to the payment of council tax. 

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 Cheshire East Council have not followed the correct process and apply for your liability order to be set aside. 

You only accept legitimate communication through a recognised official service and needs to be sent following universal postal union convention rules. You say no other forms of communications will be accepted. This includes bailiff action, using private organisations, hand delivered or electronic notices

Anyone who ignores Council Tax communications or withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them.

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.

Please be aware that it is the Council’s policy to seek the recovery of legal costs, as allowed by statute.

Further, in those court proceedings, the Council reserves the right to recover any arrears of Council Tax, legal costs and court fees by any appropriate method of legal enforcement. This may include levying execution on the council taxpayer’s possessions, seeking charging orders against the council taxpayer’s property, applying for attachment of earnings/benefits orders, issuing bankruptcy petitions and ultimately committal to prison.

Page last reviewed: 25 October 2023