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Freeman of the land – Legality of Council Tax

On this page:

  • Council Tax legality and 'Freeman of the land'
  • Can I withhold payment of my Council Tax bill?
  • Council Tax legislation
  • Frequently asked questions

Council Tax legality and 'Freeman of the land'

Council Tax is not a direct charge for services provided. It is a Statutory Tax levied on occupiers (and some owners) of dwellings within the Council's area. Council Tax is not a direct charge for individual services received; the amount collected is paid into a central fund to enable the Council to provide services for the benefit of the community as a whole.

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

Can I withhold payment of my Council Tax bill?

Anyone who withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them.

A High Court case has effectively resolved the arguments around no contract/consent to pay Council Tax and the requirement for the issue of written Liability Orders/Court Orders.

In summary 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 Council Tax (Administration and Enforcement) Regulations 1992 do not require a written court issued Liability Order. The Leighton v Bristow & Sutor case refers to extracts from a “court list” paired with a signature certifying the number of Liability Orders made and this satisfies the High Court to conclude Liability Orders have indeed been made.

The full transcript is available on Kofa, R (On the Application Of) v Oldham Metropolitan Bolton Council [2024] EWHC 685 (Admin) (27 March 2024) –

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.


Valid forms of payment for council tax are stated on the reverse of bills issued. Promissory notes will not be accepted and recovery action will continue if balances remain outstanding.

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. 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.

Whilst we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about Council Tax, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that:

  • have no legal basis
  • ask for a personal opinion
  • ask for information that does not fall within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

Such requests place a burden on our limited resources at the expense of other taxpayers. Please note this also includes letters, emails and notices served on our Chief Executive.

Where appropriate, exemptions permitted under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) will be applied and an appropriate refusal notice issued.

Common law frequently asked questions

For more information about Council Tax legality, please go to our frequently asked questions page. 


Last Updated on Friday, April 19, 2024

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