“Freeman of the Land” and challenges to the legality of Penalty Charge Notices
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, contract law and alleged rights under common law are not the same as legislation relating to the issuing of Penalty Charge Notices and their subsequent recovery.
You do not have a choice as to whether you are liable for a Penalty Charge Notice and being a ‘freeman’ does not exempt anyone from paying a Penalty Charge Notice if it has been correctly issued.
In the UK, liability for a Penalty Charge Notice is determined by the Traffic Management Act 2004, together with its supporting statutory instruments. 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 issue Penalty Charge Notices and determine who is liable to pay.
Your liability for the payment of a Penalty Charge Notice is not dependent on, and does not require, your 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.
Anyone who withholds payment will have recovery action taken against them. Anyone who attempts to make such claims against the Council, outside of the statutory process for appeal, will not receive a response.
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 of the land’ defences in court ended up in prison for 40 days.
If you have any concerns over the enforcement of a Penalty Charge Notice please seek proper legal advice, rather than relying on internet sources or forum statements which may be incorrect or misleading.
Legal Notices on Vehicles
Some users of vehicles will display a notice advising that anything attached to the vehicle without consent will be removed by force and incur a removal fee of £5,000 on demand. These Notices have no legal basis and are disregarded in terms of enforcement or demands for the fee to be paid. This also include any other form of “notice” attached to a vehicle.
The legislation that covers Civil Parking enforcement is freely available from the government website Legislation.gov.uk, including
Some customers 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 a Penalty Charge Notice and there are many misleading articles and templates on the internet regarding the legality of Civil Parking Enforcement. Anyone drawing on these for advice should exercise caution and seek proper legal advice before using them as a defence against Penalty Charge liability based on contract, consent and common law.
While we do our best to answer all relevant enquiries about a Penalty Charge Notice, we reserve the right to refuse to respond to lengthy spurious, or repeated, enquiries that focus on hypothetical arguments that have no basis in statute which use our resources at the expense of customers.
Common questions (FAQs) and additional information
The council has a responsibility to issue Penalty Charge Notices and collect the penalties and debts arising, but this does not mean it introduces a fiduciary relationship.
Some common questions received:
Some customers consider that the enforcement of a Penalty Charge is a contract and requires a legal contract and signatures indicating an agreement. As already explained, Civil Parking Enforcement 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 has not been an exchange of contracts or agreement. Neither is required for the issue of a Penalty Charge Notice and the recovery of a charge.
The hierarchy of who is considered to be the liable party is contained in The Civil Enforcement of Road Traffic Contraventions (Approved Devices, Charging Guidelines and General Provisions) (England) Regulations 2022. Agreement of this is not necessary.
The issue of a Penalty Charge Notice (the bill) creates the debt. A signature or agreement from a resident is not necessary for a Civil Parking Enforcement.
Being a Freeman of the Land does not mean someone can choose which laws they adhere to and which to ignore. In addition, the following references also have no legal basis:
- ‘lawful rebellion’
- Article 61 of the Magna Carta
- the Coronation Oath Act 1688
- The Bill of Rights Act 1689
- the ‘People’s peace’
- legal fictions, ‘straw men’ and ‘I, X of the family Y’
- maritime or admiralty law
- Uniform Commercial Code
- Notice of removal of implied right of access
It should be noted a Penalty Charge is deemed outside the scope of VAT and we are unable to provide a VAT invoice. Our VAT number is 191695526.
Mid Sussex District Council is a local authority within the Public Sector and does not have a company number.