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Freeman on the land

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"Legal name fraud" billboard in the United Kingdom, making arguments similar to those of the "Freeman on the land" movement[1]
"Legal name fraud" billboard in the United Kingdom, making arguments similar to those of the "Freeman on the land" movement[1]

The freeman on the land movement (sometimes spelled freeman-on-the-land or abbreviated as FOTL[2]), also known as the freemen of the land, the freemen movement, or simply freemen, is a loose group of individuals who believe that they are bound by statute laws only if they consent to those laws. They believe that they can therefore declare themselves independent of the government and the rule of law, holding that the only "true" law is their own idiosyncratic interpretation of "common law".[3] The name "freeman on the land", which was coined during the 2000s by movement originator Robert Arthur Menard, describes a person who is literally a "free man" on the land where they live.[4] The freeman on the land movement also advocates schemes to avoid taxes which it considers to be illegitimate.

Freemen on the land are mostly present in Commonwealth countries. The movement originally appeared in Canada as an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement, which is more prevalent in the United States.[5][6][7][8] In Canada, freemen on the land, the precursor "Detaxer" movement and sovereign citizens are referred to under the umbrella term "Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments" (OPCA), a technical phrase for pseudolaw theories and the vexatious litigation based on them.[9]

Besides Canada, freemen on the land's pseudolegal claims have been argued in the courts of Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland but have always been rejected.[2][10][11]

Discover more about Freeman on the land related topics

Consent

Consent

Consent occurs when one person voluntarily agrees to the proposal or desires of another. It is a term of common speech, with specific definitions as used in such fields as the law, medicine, research, and sexual relationships. Consent as understood in specific contexts may differ from its everyday meaning. For example, a person with a mental disorder, a low mental age, or under the legal age of sexual consent may willingly engage in a sexual act that still fails to meet the legal threshold for consent as defined by applicable law.

Rule of law

Rule of law

The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the Encyclopedia Britannica as "the mechanism, process, institution, practice, or norm that supports the equality of all citizens before the law, secures a nonarbitrary form of government, and more generally prevents the arbitrary use of power." The term rule of law is closely related to constitutionalism as well as Rechtsstaat and refers to a political situation, not to any specific legal rule.

Common law

Common law

In law, common law is the body of law created by judges and tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions.

Tax

Tax

A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer by a governmental organization in order to fund government spending and various public expenditures, and tax compliance refers to policy actions and individual behaviour aimed at ensuring that taxpayers are paying the right amount of tax at the right time and securing the correct tax allowances and tax reliefs. The first known taxation took place in Ancient Egypt around 3000–2800 BC. A failure to pay in a timely manner (non-compliance), along with evasion of or resistance to taxation, is punishable by law. Taxes consist of direct or indirect taxes and may be paid in money or as its labor equivalent.

Commonwealth of Nations

Commonwealth of Nations

The Commonwealth of Nations, simply referred to as the Commonwealth, is a political association of 56 member states, the vast majority of which are former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations amongst member states. Numerous organisations are associated with and operate within the Commonwealth.

Canada

Canada

Canada is a country in North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering over 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern and western border with the United States, stretching 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest binational land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

Sovereign citizen movement

Sovereign citizen movement

The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of litigants, activists, tax protesters, financial scheme promoters and conspiracy theorists, who claim to be answerable only to their particular interpretations of the common law and to not be subject to any government statutes or proceedings, unless they consent to them. The movement, which appeared in the early 1970s, is American in origin and exists primarily in the United States, though it has expanded to other countries. Notably, the freeman on the land movement, an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement with similar doctrines, emerged during the 2000s in Canada before spreading to other Commonwealth countries. However, sovereign citizens as such have also appeared in these countries and others. The sovereign citizen phenomenon is one of the main contemporary sources of pseudolaw: adherents to its ideology notably believe that courts have no actual jurisdiction over people and that the use of certain procedures and loopholes can make one immune from government laws and regulations. They also regard most forms of taxation as illegitimate. Sovereign citizen arguments have no basis in law and have never been successful in court.

United States

United States

The United States of America, commonly known as the United States or informally America, is a country in North America. It consists of 50 states, a federal district, five major unincorporated territories, nine Minor Outlying Islands, and 326 Indian reservations. It is the third-largest country by both land and total area. The United States shares land borders with Canada to its north and with Mexico to its south. It has maritime borders with the Bahamas, Cuba, Russia, and other nations. With a population of over 331 million, it is the third most populous country in the world. The national capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city and financial center is New York City.

Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be based on accepted law or legal doctrine, but which deviate significantly from most conventional understandings of law and jurisprudence, or which originate from non-existent statutes or legal principles the advocate or adherent incorrectly believes exist. Pseudolaw often purports to base itself on "common law", though it has no relation to contemporary or historical examples of common law.

Vexatious litigation

Vexatious litigation

Vexatious litigation is legal action which is brought solely to harass or subdue an adversary. It may take the form of a primary frivolous lawsuit or may be the repetitive, burdensome, and unwarranted filing of meritless motions in a matter which is otherwise a meritorious cause of action. Filing vexatious litigation is considered an abuse of the judicial process and may result in sanctions against the offender.

History

There is some cross-over between the two groups which call themselves freemen and sovereign citizens (and some others). The freeman on the land movement comes from the encounter of the Canadian and American traditions of pseudolaw theories.[12] Canada developed its own tradition of pseudolaw and tax protesters, which merged over time with ideas from the American sovereign citizen movement.[12]

The sovereign citizen movement originated in the radical and racist anti-government movements in the US in the 1960s and 1970s, though the far right aspects of its ideology were gradually diluted over time.[13] Sovereign citizen ideas garnered more support during the American farm crisis of the late 1970s and 1980s and a financial crisis in both the US and Canada in the same period.[14]

With the advent of the Internet and continuing during the 21st century, people throughout the English-speaking world who share the core beliefs of these movements (which may be loosely defined as "see[ing] the state as a corporation with no authority over free citizens") have been able to connect and share their beliefs.[14]

The pseudolegal ideas originated with the Sovereign Citizen movement in the United States were first imported into Canada through the "Detaxer" movement around the turn of the 21st century. "Detaxer" concepts were adapted by other "gurus" and eventually gave birth to the freeman on the land movement. By the late 2000s they had also started to spread to freeman groups in the UK and other Commonwealth countries, and to various groups in Europe.[14][9]

Canada

Pre-Detaxer movement

Canada's tax protester and pseudolaw tradition was influenced by earlier idiosyncratic interpretations of Canadian law and constitution. In 1937, R. Rogers Smith published Alberta has the Sovereign Right to Issue and Use Its Own Credit, which argued that the British North America Act and the Statute of Westminster 1931 did not make Canada an independent nation, but left it a British dependency, and that the constitutional division of powers between the Canadian federal government and provincial governments was not defined.[12] In 1945, Walter Frederick Kuhl MP delivered a speech in the House of Commons in which he argued, based on Smith's theories, that the Canadian constitution was defective and needed to be amended. Kuhl’s argument formed a basis to refuse to pay income tax, for it alleged that the federal government had no taxation authority and that all other government jurisdictions remained with the provinces. The speech was reprinted and distributed as a pamphlet titled Canada, a Country Without a Constitution. Smith and Kuhl's texts were later used as references by the "Detaxer" movement.[12]

According to Canadian legal scholar Donald J. Netolitzky, the "patient zero" for Canadian pseudolegal tax protester arguments was Gerrald Hart, an electronics shopkeeper from Winnipeg, who engaged during the 1950s in anti-tax efforts that included submitting tax returns that rejected liability instead of correctly reporting his shop's tax liabilities.[12] In The Queen v. Hart Electronics Limited, Hart was charged with failure to file a tax return. The Manitoba Court of Appeal acquitted Hart, ruling that his unsigned, unusual tax return was still a tax return, and refused to consider whether the tax return was adequate.[12] Hart also claimed that the Supreme Court ruling in Nova Scotia (Attorney General) v. Canada (Attorney General) (1951) SCR 31 meant that income tax acts passed by the Canadian government since 1971 were unconstitutional.[12] He published the Hart System of Effective Tax Avoidance that described his strategies to avoid taxes.[12]

In the early 1990s, Murray Gauvreau worked with social credit group Pilgrims of Saint Michael to promote tax protester strategies based on Hart's System of Effective Tax Avoidance via the organisation's Michael journal.[12] Gauvreau's arguments, based on filing defective tax returns, as well as constitutional arguments based on the division of powers, were rejected by the Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta.[12]

In the 1980s and the 1990s, fiscal misconception conspiracy theories similar to those found in American tax protester movements were also adopted by Canadian tax protester groups.[15] In 1999, arguments based on the constitutional division of powers, earlier used by Hart and Gauvreau, were further developed by Robert A. Marquis in his book Fraud, Deception, Manipulation, though Marquis failed to mention that these arguments had already been rejected by Canadian courts.[12]

Canadian pseudolegal anti-tax activism initially had little resonance outside marginal right-wing communities. This changed in the late 1990s, when the "Detaxer" movement became influential in Canada.[12]

Detaxer movement (1998)

Around 1998,[15] Canadian pilot Eldon Gerald Warman, who had been exposed to American pseudo-legal concepts while residing in the United States, promoted ideas adapted from the American sovereign citizen movement through his website Detax Canada and the organization of seminars.[15][12] Warman claimed to be subject only to "common law", referring not to modern case law, but to historical English case law.[12] He credited as his mentor American activist Roger Elvick, who had founded the redemption movement in the United States; the redemption movement notably promoted the strawman theory, which is based on the assertion that state legislative authority only extends to an individual's legal person, and not to their natural person.[12]

Warman claimed that whereas in the United States, an individual's Social Security Number was used to attach this "strawman" to a natural person, in Canada, this was done using a birth certificate.[15] Around 2000, Warman also worked with Ernst Friedrich Kyburz and Sikander Abdulali "Alex" Muljiani to promote anti-tax ideas based on the sovereign citizen movement's beliefs, at joint seminars across Canada.[12][15] He also used misinterpretations of Canadian case law to justify unrestricted automobile use.[12]

Warman asserted that government authority over an individual arises from a contract, that statute law cannot be used to impose on a person a contract that deprives the individual of property rights and freedom to travel, and that individual rights and liberties derived from Anglo-Saxon common law, as well as Magna Carta.[15] He instructed his followers to use disclaimers in income tax returns, to reject correspondence from the Canada Revenue Agency and to refrain from citing the Constitution of Canada in court, to avoid entering into an assumpsit contract.[15]

He asked them instead to deny the "strawman", claim "common law" jurisdiction, and otherwise claim the right to silence.[15] Warman also used pre-Detaxer arguments to assert that the Canadian constitution was defective, and proposed a new constitutional document, the Magna Carta Kanata.[15] However, he criticised other pre-Detaxer strategies and suggested that they were secretly sponsored by the Canada Revenue Agency itself.[15]

In 1999, after he was charged with assaulting a police officer,[15] Warman attempted to use these pseudo-legal arguments to assert that the Provincial Court of British Columbia did not have jurisdiction over him in R v Warman (2000) BCPC 0022.[16] On denying Warman's appeal, the British Columbia Court of Appeal noted that his arguments were based on a rejection of state and judicial authority.[15]

Warman, who died in 2017, was emulated by several other "gurus".[15] Some Detaxer methods relied on technical loopholes, and were occasionnally successful in doing so, while others attacked the taxation authority itself. One "guru" who enjoyed particular notoriety was Russell Porisky, and his organization known as the Paradigm Education Group; Porisky promoted Detaxer theories via multilevel marketing strategies, making them more broadly accessible to the public. Porisky's concept was that people could avoid paying taxes by declaring themselves a "natural person" rather than taxpayers. His method relied on combining the definition of a "person" in section 248(1) of the Canadian income tax Act with the strawman theory.[12] Porisky was first convicted of tax evasion in 2012.[17] In 2016, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison and ordered to pay C$259,482 in fines for tax evasion and for having counselled others to commit fraud.[18]

The Detaxer movement went through a decline after 2008, due to the repeated failure of its concepts in courts. As of 2016, the last "guru" actively teaching Detaxer theories is David Kevin Lindsay,[12] a serial litigant who participated in hundred of court cases as a plaintiff or as an "agent" acting on behalf of others.[19] In 2010, Lindsay unsuccessfully argued before the Supreme Court of British Columbia that he should not be paying taxes because he was not a "person" as defined by the Income Tax Act but "a full liability free will flesh and blood living man".[20] Linsday's own failure in court eroded his status as a pseudolaw guru.[12] In 2016, Lindsay complained that Canadian pseudolaw affiliates and gurus had become too influenced by US concepts.[15] During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lindsay re-emerged as a leader of anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests in British Columbia.[21]

Freeman on the land movement (from 2000)

The freeman on the land movement in Canada originated with one single key "guru", Robert Arthur Menard.[15] A former construction worker and stand-up comic,[22] Menard entered pseudolaw as a student of Detaxer theories, which he later espoused on the Internet, using online forums such as "Cannabis culture", videos and freely distributed electronic books.[15][22] He became more invested in pseudolaw around 2000, as he was having a dispute with child welfare authorities over access to and custody of the child of a teenaged partner.[15]

Menard's guru activity initially focused on how birth documentation allegedly allows the state to control children. He later expanded his claims, asserting that he could immunize people from Canadian law as a whole. Menard used the phrase "Freeloader-on-the-Land" to describe how people could ignore their social and legal obligations while still benefiting from Canadian services and infrastructures.[15]

Menard showed little conceptual innovation, and mostly used simplified versions of Detaxer theories which he restated as fact. However, his skillful use of social media helped him gain more followers than Warman.[15] He also borrowed concepts from Mary Elizabeth Croft, another pseudolaw ideologue.[12] Menard's only personal contribution to pseudolegal theory is his argument that the secret "strawman" bank account is reflected in the Charter, section 7 reference to the "security of the person" which, he argues, references to the "birth bond" of the strawman.[12] Otherwise, his theories showed little documentary foundation. In his 2011 book With Lawful Excuse, Menard claims that Canada was salvaged as a corporation operated by bankers in London after the death of Queen Victoria; in the same book, he later claims that Canada is a "US corporation", that Canadian provincial governments are a "legal fiction", and finally references Pre-Detaxer theories that Canada's constitution is defective.[15] Donald J. Netolitzky comments that despite Menard's stature in pseudolegal circles, his understanding of law is "best described as unsophisticated", and "grossly inferior" to that of Detaxer gurus such as David Kevin Lindsay.[23]

The notable difference between the Detaxer and Freemen on the land populations is that the latter shows a politically leftist orientation, open to environmentalism, anti-globalization concepts and marijuana advocacy. Freeman on the land ideology developed in Canada mostly as a criminal culture: most of its courtroom applications were aimed to legitimise illegal activities.[15] Variations by other gurus may also include New Age concepts.[15] The movement attracted a broad range of people opposed to the federal government of Canada, including environmentalists and First Nations people.[24] Menard also launched a financial scheme, the Association of Canadian Consumer Purchasers (ACCP), through which people could purportedly receive the "Menard Card", a $2,500.00 debit card, in return for a $250.00 per month subscription.[25] In 2012, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service reported that freemen on the land were causing a "major policing problem". Adherents had violent encounters with police forces and the movement attempted to create its own "corps of peace officers".[26] Like their Canadian Detaxer predecessors and American sovereign citizens, Canadian freemen on the land put a strain on public resources, notably using paper terrorism by filing numerous documents written in incoherent language to clog the court system.[27]

Since the early 2010s, however, the freeman on the land movement has declined in Canada due to the persistent failure of its concepts in court[9] and Menard's lack of success in his other initiatives such as the creation of the "peace officers" corps, of an alternative community and government structure, and a touring arts and crafts event.[12] Around 2010, Menard's leadership was challenged by another "guru", Dean Clifford, who advocated a more confrontational approach against government and court authorities.[9][12] In 2013, Clifford was arrested on charges of traffic violations;[24][28] in 2016, he was sentenced to three years in prison for numerous drug and weapons offenses.[29] Clifford was mostly discredited following his arrest and detention. After his release, he endeavored to restore his status in the pseudolaw community;[12] in 2018, he started operating a company which purported to discharge customers' debts through an "A4V" scheme.[9]

Eventually, Menard largely withdrew from the scene while newer "gurus" met with little success.[15] One freeman on the land guru, known under the pseudonym "John Spirit", stood out by using actual Canadian legal resources to develop more sophisticated pseudolegal concepts that Menard's,[15] as well as a new definition of the strawman theory based on misinterpretations of international texts. He notably asserted that international treaties are supraconstitutional authorities in Canada, as they are incorporated into the Charter.[23] He specifically based himself on a misinterpretation of Section 7 of the Charter to argue that one could invoke international treaties to eliminate one's "strawman" and become free of legal constraints.[30] According to Donald J. Netolitzky, whereas Menard and Clifford's theories are little more than "empty mantras", Spirit's arguments are grounded on specific court decision passages often cited in Supreme Court jurisprudence and may have triggered a shift towards "more conventionally argued" freeman on the land litigation.[23] However, Spirit's attempt to develop a serious freeman on the land legal thinking proved a "two-edged sword"[15] when his concepts where refuted in Canadian provincial and Federal courts.[23]

The Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta's 2012 Meads v. Meads decision, which refuted in detail freeman on the land and other pseudolegal theories, has since been used as case law against pseudolegal tactics by courts in Canada as well as in other Commonwealth countries.[9]

United Kingdom

Freeman on the land ideology reached the United Kingdom in the late 2000s. Use of pseudolaw in the UK is difficult to evaluate, but there is clear evidence of an active community using concepts mostly derived from Canadian fFreeman on the land sources. Unlike Canadian freemen who primarily use pseudolaw to justify illegal activity, UK litigants mostly focus on economic reasons, such as avoiding Council Tax, motor vehicle registration and insurance, television licence fees, mortgages, and other debts.[15] In 2016, billboards in the UK advertised the freeman on the land concept of "legal name fraud", a variation of the strawman theory claiming that "all legal names are owned by the Crown, and therefore using a legal name without their written permission is fraud".[1]

Ireland

In Ireland, where freeman on the land tactics were imported roughly at the same time as in the United Kingdom, local gurus have created Ireland-specific motifs of defective state authority, citing the Constitution of Ireland and presenting Brehon law, rather than English common law, as the true source of legislation. The expansion of pseudolegal "freeman" activity in Ireland was fostered by a period of economic difficulties in the late 2000s, following the burst of a real-estate bubble which led people to seek remedies for their financial woes.[15]

Australia

Australia has a tradition of pseudolaw, dating back to the 1980s and sovereign citizen concepts were imported into Australia during the 1990s. Local gurus have been using Australia-specific concepts ; however, Australian pseudolaw litigants may also identify as freemen on the land or use Canadian-style freeman documents.[15] There have been several court cases testing the core concept, none successful for the "freemen".[31] Local freeman on the land activists have made particular efforts to appeal to Indigenous Australians.[32]

New Zealand

Unlike Australia, New Zealand has not developed local concepts, even though many New Zealander pseudolaw litigants are Maori who base their claims on their ethnic status. Pseudolegal documents in New Zealand have shown influence from multiple foreign sources, including Canadian freemen on the land ideology.[15]

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Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be based on accepted law or legal doctrine, but which deviate significantly from most conventional understandings of law and jurisprudence, or which originate from non-existent statutes or legal principles the advocate or adherent incorrectly believes exist. Pseudolaw often purports to base itself on "common law", though it has no relation to contemporary or historical examples of common law.

Far-right politics

Far-right politics

Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularly in terms of being radically conservative, ultra-nationalist, and authoritarian, as well as having nativist ideologies and tendencies.

Internet

Internet

The Internet is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a network of networks that consists of private, public, academic, business, and government networks of local to global scope, linked by a broad array of electronic, wireless, and optical networking technologies. The Internet carries a vast range of information resources and services, such as the inter-linked hypertext documents and applications of the World Wide Web (WWW), electronic mail, telephony, and file sharing.

English-speaking world

English-speaking world

Speakers of English are also known as Anglophones, and the countries where English is natively spoken by the majority of the population are termed the Anglosphere. Over two billion people speak English as of the 2000s, making English the largest language by number of speakers, and the third largest language by number of native speakers.

Corporation

Corporation

A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law for certain purposes. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations come in many different types but are usually divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered based on two aspects: by whether they can issue stock, or by whether they are formed to make a profit. Depending on the number of owners, a corporation can be classified as aggregate or sole.

Law of Canada

Law of Canada

The legal system of Canada is pluralist: its foundations lie in the English common law system, the French civil law system, and Indigenous law systems developed by the various Indigenous Nations.

Constitution of Canada

Constitution of Canada

The Constitution of Canada is the supreme law in Canada. It outlines Canada's system of government and the civil and human rights of those who are citizens of Canada and non-citizens in Canada. Its contents are an amalgamation of various codified acts, treaties between the Crown and Indigenous Peoples, uncodified traditions and conventions. Canada is one of the oldest constitutional monarchies in the world.

House of Commons of Canada

House of Commons of Canada

The House of Commons of Canada is the lower house of the Parliament of Canada. Together with the Crown and the Senate of Canada, they comprise the bicameral legislature of Canada.

Income tax in Canada

Income tax in Canada

Income taxes in Canada constitute the majority of the annual revenues of the Government of Canada, and of the governments of the Provinces of Canada. In the fiscal year ending 31 March 2018, the federal government collected just over three times more revenue from personal income taxes than it did from corporate income taxes.

Provinces and territories of Canada

Provinces and territories of Canada

Within the geographical areas of Canada, the ten provinces and three territories are sub-national administrative divisions under the jurisdiction of the Canadian Constitution. In the 1867 Canadian Confederation, three provinces of British North America—New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and the Province of Canada —united to form a federation, becoming a fully independent country over the next century. Over its history, Canada's international borders have changed several times as it has added territories and provinces, making it the world's second-largest country by area.

Manitoba Court of Appeal

Manitoba Court of Appeal

The Manitoba Court of Appeal is the court of appeal in, and the highest court of, the Canadian province of Manitoba. It hears criminal, civil, and family law cases, as well as appeals from various administrative boards and tribunals.

Social credit

Social credit

Social credit is a distributive philosophy of political economy developed by C. H. Douglas. Douglas attributed economic downturns to discrepancies between the cost of goods and the compensation of the workers who made them. To combat what he saw as a chronic deficiency of purchasing power in the economy, Douglas prescribed government intervention in the form of the issuance of debt free money directly to consumers or producers in order to combat such discrepancy.

Groupings

A number of anti-state movements with similar tactics but different ideologies may receive the label "freeman on the land".[33]

Canada

Robert Arthur Menard, the originator of the movement, was called the "Director of Freemen on the Land", though he likened the movement to "a voluntary relay race" and said that it was "way too unorganized to have a hierarchical structure".[15] Canadian legal scholar Donald J. Netolitzky commented that the "freeman" population had an "amorphous" character and was "less an organization or “movement” than a collection of individuals who hold powerful anti-authority beliefs".[9]

An article published by The Journal of Intelligence, Conflict, and Warfare identified nine classes of adherents of freeman on the land and similar anti-authority groups in Canada:[33]

  1. fantastical believers, who operate in an alternative frame of reference that may be difficult to distinguish from mental illness;
  2. conspiracy theorists, whose paranoid worldview is rich in blame to outside entities;
  3. escapists, who want autonomy and tend to be loners;
  4. dabblers/opportunists, who see the movement as a chance to get out from under sudden setbacks including family or financial problems;
  5. sympathisers, who share the ideologies and anti-government views, but continue to fulfil their obligations and do not engage in confrontational or pseudolegal tactics;
  6. the committed, with active, ongoing anti-authority conflict, which may or may not have started with a sudden event like the dabblers/opportunists;
  7. violent extremists, who are rare, but move past pseudolegal tactics;
  8. entrepreneurs, who exploit other adherents by means such as "money for nothing" schemes or providing pseudolegal services or documents for a fee; and
  9. "gurus", either with an established following or developing one, who seek visibility in the movement with their take on world events and pseudolaw theories.

Associate Justice John D. Rooke, in his 2012 Meads v. Meads decision, describes the freeman on the land movement as having "libertarian and right wing overtones".[19] In a 2019 article of the Alberta Law Review, Donald J. Netolitzky disagrees with this assessment, which he considers a confusion between the freeman on the land and sovereign citizen movements: according to Netolitzky, a sociological study has shown that, while very hostile to state and institutional actors, the freeman on the land population is predominately left leaning. He adds, however, that freemen on the land are ideologically heterogeneous and that there is a "broad overlap" between their beliefs and those of the sovereign citizens, which leads to confusion between the two.[9]

Australia

In Australia, there is some cross-over between groups which call themselves freemen on the land and sovereign citizens (and some others).[34][2] From the 2010s, there has been a growing number of Freemen targeting Indigenous Australians, with groups with names like Tribal Sovereign Parliament of Gondwana Land, the Original Sovereign Tribal Federation (OSTF)[35] and the Original Sovereign Confederation. OSTF Founder Mark McMurtrie, an Aboriginal Australian man, has produced YouTube videos speaking about “common law”, which incorporate Freemen beliefs. Appealing to other Aboriginal people by partly identifying with the land rights movement, McMurtrie played on their feelings of alienation and lack of trust in the systems which had not served Indigenous people well.[32] A group called United Rights Australia (U R Australia[36]) has a Facebook presence, and there are other websites promulgating Freemen/Sovereign Citizen ideas.[14][37]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, freeman on the land ideology has influenced The People's United Community (TPUC), a group created in 2007 to oppose taxation, European integration and the Conservative government. TPUC espoused one UK-specific concept of defective state authority, called "lawful rebellion", namely that a freeman could write the Queen and invoke Clause 61 of the Magna Carta to negate Royal (and, by extension, government) authority. However, Clause 61 empowers 25 Barons to restrict the monarch, and does not concern the general public nor mention "lawful rebellion". Freeman ideas also spilled into the UK Occupy movement.[15]

Ireland

In Ireland, the Tir na Saor website, which operated from 2009 to 2016, was a major hub for the Irish pseudolaw community and showed clear Canadian freeman influences. The most unusual development of freeman ideology in Ireland was the creation of a political party, Direct Democracy Ireland, created in 2010 by anti-foreclosure activist and serial litigant Ben Gilroy. Direct Democracy Ireland did poorly at elections and the Irish freeman on the land movement eventually went into decline.[15]

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Relay race

Relay race

A relay race is a racing competition where members of a team take turns completing parts of racecourse or performing a certain action. Relay races take the form of professional races and amateur games. Relay races are common in running, orienteering, swimming, cross-country skiing, biathlon, or ice skating. In the Olympic Games, there are several types of relay races that are part of track and field. Relay race, also called Relay, a track-and-field sport consisting of a set number of stages (legs), usually four, each leg run by a different member of a team. The runner finishing one leg is usually required to pass the next runner a stick-like object known as a "baton" while both are running in a marked exchange zone. In most relays, team members cover equal distances: Olympic events for both men and women are the 400-metre and 1,600-metre relays. Some non-Olympic relays are held at distances of 800 m, 3,200 m, and 6,000 m. In the less frequently run medley relays, however, the athletes cover different distances in a prescribed order—as in a sprint medley of 200, 200, 400, 800 metres or a distance medley of 1,200, 400, 800, 1,600 metres.

Loner

Loner

A loner is a person who does not seek out, or may actively avoid, interaction with other people. There are many potential reasons for their solitude. Intentional reasons include introversion, mysticism, spirituality, religion, or personal considerations. Unintentional reasons involve being highly sensitive or shy. More than one type of loner exists, and those who meet the criteria for being called loners often actually enjoy social interactions with people but display a degree of introversion which leads them to seek out time alone.

Libertarianism

Libertarianism

Libertarianism is a political philosophy that upholds liberty as a core value. Libertarians seek to maximize autonomy and political freedom, and minimize the state's encroachment on and violations of individual liberties; emphasizing the rule of law, pluralism, cosmopolitanism, cooperation, civil and political rights, bodily autonomy, free association, free trade, freedom of expression, freedom of choice, freedom of movement, individualism and voluntary association. Libertarians are often skeptical of or opposed to authority, state power, warfare, militarism and nationalism, but some libertarians diverge on the scope of their opposition to existing economic and political systems. Various schools of Libertarian thought offer a range of views regarding the legitimate functions of state and private power, often calling for the restriction or dissolution of coercive social institutions. Different categorizations have been used to distinguish various forms of Libertarianism. Scholars distinguish libertarian views on the nature of property and capital, usually along left–right or socialist–capitalist lines. Libertarians of various schools were influenced by liberal ideas.

Right-wing politics

Right-wing politics

Right-wing politics describes the range of political ideologies that view certain social orders and hierarchies as inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this position on the basis of natural law, economics, authority, property or tradition. Hierarchy and inequality may be seen as natural results of traditional social differences or competition in market economies.

Alberta Law Review

Alberta Law Review

The Alberta Law Review is a peer-reviewed law review or legal journal, published quarterly by the Alberta Law Review Society. The Society is a non-profit organization consisting entirely of students from both the University of Alberta Faculty of Law and the University of Calgary Faculty of Law.

Sovereign citizen movement

Sovereign citizen movement

The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of litigants, activists, tax protesters, financial scheme promoters and conspiracy theorists, who claim to be answerable only to their particular interpretations of the common law and to not be subject to any government statutes or proceedings, unless they consent to them. The movement, which appeared in the early 1970s, is American in origin and exists primarily in the United States, though it has expanded to other countries. Notably, the freeman on the land movement, an offshoot of the sovereign citizen movement with similar doctrines, emerged during the 2000s in Canada before spreading to other Commonwealth countries. However, sovereign citizens as such have also appeared in these countries and others. The sovereign citizen phenomenon is one of the main contemporary sources of pseudolaw: adherents to its ideology notably believe that courts have no actual jurisdiction over people and that the use of certain procedures and loopholes can make one immune from government laws and regulations. They also regard most forms of taxation as illegitimate. Sovereign citizen arguments have no basis in law and have never been successful in court.

Left-wing politics

Left-wing politics

Left-wing politics describes the range of political ideologies that support and seek to achieve social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy. Left-wing politics typically involve a concern for those in society whom its adherents perceive as disadvantaged relative to others as well as a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished. Left-wing politics are also associated with popular or state control of major political and economic institutions. According to emeritus professor of economics Barry Clark, left-wing supporters "claim that human development flourishes when individuals engage in cooperative, mutually respectful relations that can thrive only when excessive differences in status, power, and wealth are eliminated."

Taxation in the United Kingdom

Taxation in the United Kingdom

Taxation in the United Kingdom may involve payments to at least three different levels of government: central government, devolved governments and local government. Central government revenues come primarily from income tax, National Insurance contributions, value added tax, corporation tax and fuel duty. Local government revenues come primarily from grants from central government funds, business rates in England, Council Tax and increasingly from fees and charges such as those for on-street parking. In the fiscal year 2014–15, total government revenue was forecast to be £648 billion, or 37.7 per cent of GDP, with net taxes and National Insurance contributions standing at £606 billion.

Premiership of David Cameron

Premiership of David Cameron

David Cameron's term as the prime minister of the United Kingdom began on 11 May 2010, when he accepted an invitation of Queen Elizabeth II to form a government, succeeding Gordon Brown of the Labour Party, and ended on 13 July 2016 upon his resignation following the 2016 referendum that favoured Brexit, which he had opposed. While serving as prime minister, Cameron also served as the first lord of the treasury, minister for the civil service and leader of the Conservative Party.

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II

Elizabeth II was Queen of the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth realms from 6 February 1952 until her death in 2022. She was queen regnant of 32 sovereign states during her lifetime, and was head of state of 15 of those states at the time of her death. Her reign of 70 years and 214 days was the longest of any British monarch and the longest verified reign of any female monarch in history.

Magna Carta

Magna Carta

Magna Carta Libertatum, commonly called Magna Carta, is a royal charter of rights agreed to by King John of England at Runnymede, near Windsor, on 15 June 1215. First drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton, to make peace between the unpopular king and a group of rebel barons, it promised the protection of church rights, protection for the barons from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, and limitations on feudal payments to the Crown, to be implemented through a council of 25 barons. Neither side stood behind their commitments, and the charter was annulled by Pope Innocent III, leading to the First Barons' War.

Occupy movement

Occupy movement

The Occupy movement was an international populist socio-political movement that expressed opposition to social and economic inequality and to the perceived lack of "real democracy" around the world. It aimed primarily to advance social and economic justice and different forms of democracy. The movement has had many different scopes, since local groups often had different focuses, but its prime concerns included how large corporations control the world in a way that disproportionately benefits a minority, undermines democracy and causes instability.

Beliefs

Freemen on the land, like sovereign citizens, share the core beliefs commonly seen in pseudolaw.[10] Their theories have been broadly defined as "see[ing] the state as a corporation with no authority over free citizens".[14] Freemen's beliefs are largely based on misunderstandings and wishful thinking, and do not stand up to legal scrutiny.[38] Freemen arguments have been rejected in the courts of various countries, including England, Wales,[39][38] Canada,[19] and Australia.[31]

The Canadian case Meads v. Meads (see below) identified five major themes in the freeman on the land belief systems:[9]

Exemption from jurisdiction

An example of a notice used by a self-described freeman on the land in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
An example of a notice used by a self-described freeman on the land in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

A number of arguments are employed to claim immunity from law. These arguments are described in Meads v. Meads as "magic hats",[9] as a reference to the fact that many pseudolegal tactics resemble magic rituals more than actual law.[40]

Many freemen beliefs are based on idiosyncratic interpretations of admiralty or maritime law, which the freemen claim govern the commercial world. These beliefs stem from fringe interpretations of various nautical-sounding terms, such as ownership, citizenship, dock, or birth (berth) certificate. Freemen refer to the court as a ship and the court's occupants as passengers, and may claim that those leaving are "men overboard".[38]

Freemen will try to claim common law (as opposed to admiralty law) jurisdiction by asking "Do you have a claim against me?" This, they contend, removes their consent to be governed by admiralty law and turns the court into a common law court, so that proceedings would have to go forward according to their version of common law. This procedure has never been successfully used.[39][38]

Freemen will often not accept legal representation, believing that to do so would mean contracting with the state. They believe that the United Kingdom and Canada are now operating in bankruptcy and are therefore under admiralty law. They believe that since the abolition of the gold standard, currencies are backed not by gold but by the people (or the "legal fiction of their persons").[38]

British Freemen describe persons as creditors of the UK corporation. Therefore, a court is a place of business, and a summons is an invitation to discuss the matter at hand, with no powers to require attendance or compliance.[38] They may believe that the government controls secret bank accounts in their name as part of this theory, which may be accessed to pay off debts.

One tactic commonly used by the freeman on the land movement to make themselves immune from jurisdiction is the so-called "Notice of Understanding, Intent, and Claim of Right" (also abbreviated as "NOUICR"), a type of pseudolegal document to be delivered to government actors, which purportedly allows its users to "opt out" of state obligations while maintaining or creating the rights they desire. Menard created the original NOUICR template, which was later adapted and revised by many other Freemen "gurus" to expand the rights claimed in the document or to make it appear more authoritative. Freemen on the land believe that such documents will make them immune from prosecution or from state sanction.[41] The signed document, often notarised, is sent to the King and possibly other authorities such as the Prime Minister and police chiefs. It usually begins with the words "Whereas it is my understanding" and goes on to state the freemen's understanding of the law and their lack of consent to it.[38]

Laws as contracts

Freemen believe that statute law is a contract, and that individuals can therefore opt out of statute law, choosing instead to live under what they call "common" (case) and "natural" laws. They believe natural laws require only that individuals do not harm others, do not damage the property of others, and do not use "fraud or mischief" in contracts.[38] In a 2004 video titled "Bursting Bubbles of Government Deception", Menard claimed that that one does not have to follow the law if he has "constructively den[ied] consent to be governed" via contract with the government.[42] Freemen believe that since they exist in a common law jurisdiction where equality is paramount and mandatory, the people in the government and courts are not above the law, and that government and court personnel therefore must obtain the consent of the governed.

Freemen believe that government employees who do not obtain consent of the governed have abandoned the rule of law. They believe this consent is routinely secured by way of people submitting applications and through acts of registration. They believe the public servants have deceived the population into abandoning their status as freemen in exchange for the status of a "child of the province" or "ward of the state", allowing those children to collect benefits such as welfare, unemployment insurance, and pension plans or old age security.

Freemen believe that the government has to establish "joinder" to link oneself and one's legal person. If one is asked whether one is "John Smith" and one says that is so, one has established joinder and connected the physical and human persons. The next step is to obtain consent, as they believe that statutes are merely invitations to enter a contract, and are only legally enforceable if one enters into the contract consensually. Otherwise, they believe that statute laws are not applicable. Freemen believe that the government is constantly trying to trick people into entering into a contract with them, so they often return bills, notices, summons and so on with the message "No contract—return to sender".[38]

Silence as consent

One common pseudolegal belief shared by Freemen of the land is that "silence means consent", meaning that any claim or alleged statement of fact placed in a sworn document is proven true unless rebutted.[10] This belief extends to Freemen's use of the "Notices of Understanding, Intent, and Claim of Right" which they consider stand as fact if any government actor can be persuaded to file them and does not rebut them afterwards.[41]

Dual identity

A common pseudolegal belief, originating in the redemption and sovereign citizen movements, is that people have two parts to their existence: their "flesh and blood" identity as individuals and their legal "person". The former is joined to the latter by the birth certificate; some freemen claim that it is entirely limited to the birth certificate. Under this theory, a "strawman" is created when a birth certificate is issued, and this strawman is the entity who is subject to statutory law. The physical self is referred to by a slightly different name, such as "John of the family Smith" instead of "John Smith".[38] "Notices of Understanding, Intent, and Claim of Right" documents may or may not refer to the "strawman".[41]

Secret financial instruments

An implication of the strawman theory, also derived from the concepts of the redemption movement, is that there is some government-controlled account linked to a person through the birth certificate. This aspect of the theory suggests that the value of that account can be applied to financial obligations and even criminal charges.[40] The concept behind this scheme has sometimes been called "money for nothing".[10]

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Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw

Pseudolaw consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that are claimed to be based on accepted law or legal doctrine, but which deviate significantly from most conventional understandings of law and jurisprudence, or which originate from non-existent statutes or legal principles the advocate or adherent incorrectly believes exist. Pseudolaw often purports to base itself on "common law", though it has no relation to contemporary or historical examples of common law.

Corporation

Corporation

A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the state to act as a single entity and recognized as such in law for certain purposes. Early incorporated entities were established by charter. Most jurisdictions now allow the creation of new corporations through registration. Corporations come in many different types but are usually divided by the law of the jurisdiction where they are chartered based on two aspects: by whether they can issue stock, or by whether they are formed to make a profit. Depending on the number of owners, a corporation can be classified as aggregate or sole.

England and Wales

England and Wales

England and Wales is one of the three legal jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. It covers the constituent countries England and Wales and was formed by the Laws in Wales Acts 1535 and 1542. The substantive law of the jurisdiction is English law.

Ceremonial magic

Ceremonial magic

Ceremonial magic encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic. The works included are characterized by ceremony and numerous requisite accessories to aid the practitioner. It can be seen as an extension of ritual magic, and in most cases synonymous with it. Popularized by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, it draws on such schools of philosophical and occult thought as Hermetic Qabalah, Enochian magic, Thelema, and the magic of various grimoires. Ceremonial magic is part of Hermeticism and Western esotericism.

Admiralty law

Admiralty law

Admiralty law or maritime law is a body of law that governs nautical issues and private maritime disputes. Admiralty law consists of both domestic law on maritime activities, and private international law governing the relationships between private parties operating or using ocean-going ships. While each legal jurisdiction usually has its own legislation governing maritime matters, the international nature of the topic and the need for uniformity has, since 1900, led to considerable international maritime law developments, including numerous multilateral treaties.

Fringe theory

Fringe theory

A fringe theory is an idea or a viewpoint which differs from the accepted scholarship of the time within its field. Fringe theories include the models and proposals of fringe science, as well as similar ideas in other areas of scholarship, such as the humanities. In a narrower sense, the term fringe theory is commonly used as a pejorative; it is roughly synonymous with the term pseudo-scholarship. Precise definitions that make distinctions between widely held viewpoints, fringe theories, and pseudo-scholarship are difficult to construct because of the demarcation problem. Issues of false balance or false equivalence can occur when fringe theories are presented as being equal to widely accepted theories.

Common law

Common law

In law, common law is the body of law created by judges and tribunals by virtue of being stated in written opinions.

Gold standard

Gold standard

A gold standard is a monetary system in which the standard economic unit of account is based on a fixed quantity of gold. The gold standard was the basis for the international monetary system from the 1870s to the early 1920s, and from the late 1920s to 1932 as well as from 1944 until 1971 when the United States unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold, effectively ending the Bretton Woods system. Many states nonetheless hold substantial gold reserves.

Head of the Commonwealth

Head of the Commonwealth

The head of the Commonwealth is the ceremonial leader who symbolises "the free association of independent member nations" of the Commonwealth of Nations, an intergovernmental organisation that currently comprises 56 sovereign states. There is no set term of office or term limit and the role itself involves no part in the day-to-day governance of any of the member states within the Commonwealth. The position is currently held by King Charles III.

Case law

Case law

Case law, also used interchangeably with common law, is law that is based on precedents, that is the judicial decisions from previous cases, rather than law based on constitutions, statutes, or regulations. Case law uses the detailed facts of a case that have been resolved by courts or similar tribunals. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning "let the decision stand"—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions, drawing on established judicial authority to formulate their positions.

Consent of the governed

Consent of the governed

In political philosophy, the phrase consent of the governed refers to the idea that a government's legitimacy and moral right to use state power is justified and lawful only when consented to by the people or society over which that political power is exercised. This theory of consent is historically contrasted to the divine right of kings and had often been invoked against the legitimacy of colonialism. Article 21 of the United Nations' 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government".

Joinder

Joinder

In law, a joinder is the joining of two or more legal issues together. Procedurally, a joinder allows multiple issues to be heard in one hearing or trial and occurs if the issues or parties involved overlap sufficiently to make the process more efficient or fairer. That helps courts avoid hearing the same facts multiple times or seeing the same parties return to court separately for each of their legal disputes. The term is also used in the realm of contracts to describe the joining of new parties to an existing agreement.

Court cases

Canada

  • In 2012, Dennis Larry Meads of Edmonton, Alberta used freeman on the land arguments during his divorce and matrimonial property case, notably demanding that his spousal and child support obligations be paid by using the money from his "strawman"'s purported secret bank account. In his court decision Meads v. Meads, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Associate Chief Justice John D. Rooke coined the phrase "Organised Pseudolegal Commercial Arguments" to describe the techniques and arguments used by freemen in court, describing them as frivolous and vexatious:[43][44][19]

    The bluntly idiotic substance of Mr. Mead's [sic] argument explains the unnecessarily complicated manner in which it was presented. OPCA arguments are never sold to their customers as simple ideas, but instead are byzantine schemes which more closely resemble the plot of a dark fantasy novel than anything else. Latin maxims and powerful sounding language are often used. Documents are often ornamented with many strange markings and seals. Litigants engage in peculiar, ritual‑like in court conduct. All these features appear necessary for gurus to market OPCA schemes to their often desperate, ill‑informed, mentally disturbed, or legally abusive customers. This is crucial to understand the non-substance of any OPCA concept or strategy. The story and process of a OPCA scheme is not intended to impress or convince the Courts, but rather to impress the guru's customer.[19] [emphasis in original]

    In refuting each of the arguments used by Meads, Rooke concluded that "a decade of reported cases, many of which he refers to in his ruling, have failed to prove a single concept advanced by OPCA litigants".[45]

    Dennis Larry Meads eventually abandoned pseudolegal strategies and retained counsel for a time. Even though the divorce was only finalized in 2017, he continued the rest of the litigation in an orderly fashion.[9]
  • In 2012, Wilfred Keith Thompson and two others were arrested by police in Guelph, Ontario, Canada, charged with breaking, entering and theft as well as firearms offences. Thompson had previously made headlines for informing City Hall, local police, Guelph MP Frank Valeriote, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other officials he is "an autonomous being not controlled by others". One of his co-defendants, Trevor "Red" De Block, refused to identify himself to the court, though it was said that his criminal mug shot, computer records, tattoos and other information confirmed his identity. "I object," De Block said, adding that he was not the "rightful owner" of his name, but refusing to clarify or participate in legal proceedings. "I don't bow down to bail . . . to false gods," he said, and rejected assistance from the appointed lawyer. Thompson and De Block were denied bail.[46]

England and Wales

As of 2011 there was no recorded instance of freeman tactics being upheld in a court of law in the UK.[39]

  • Elizabeth Watson came to public attention in 2011 as a self-styled legal adviser for Victoria Haigh in a child custody case; she was given a nine-month prison sentence for contempt of court (later suspended). She had defaced court documents by writing the words "no contract" and otherwise refused to accept or acknowledge the authority of a court of law, by among other things refusing to respond to the written legal notices or other correspondences from the court, and styling and addressing herself and Haigh in irregular fashion as "Elizabeth of the Watson family" and "Victoria of the Haigh family" respectively, instead of their names in the normal and usual mode of rendering.[47][48]
  • Mark Bond of Norfolk, England, was arrested in 2010 for non-payment of tax, despite handing police a "notice of intent" stating that he was no longer a UK citizen. He told police that the notice had already been delivered to the Queen and the prime minister. He told the Norwich Evening News, "Today I asked the judge to walk into the court under common law and not commercial law. If I had entered under commercial law it would prove that I accepted its law. I was denied my rights to go in there." He was sentenced to three months custody, suspended on condition that he pay off the debt at £20 a week.[49]
  • Dean Marshall of Preston, Holderness, near Hull, East Yorkshire, England, was taken to court after he was found to be growing 26 cannabis plants in his garden shed. Claiming he was a freeman on the land and therefore not guilty, he then attempted to call up Queen Elizabeth II and (the prime minister) David Cameron as his witnesses, although he was told that neither was available to attend. A jury at Hull Crown Court dismissed his claims and convicted him of conspiracy to produce cannabis for which he was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended upon entering into a good behaviour bond for two years, and was ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.[50]
  • Doug Jones of Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales, spent 22 days in prison after refusing to take a breath test. Jones questioned the authority and jurisdiction of the court, asking to see the judge's 'Oath of Office' which resulted in a sentence of fourteen days for contempt of court. He was sentenced to a further seven days after failing to attend a second hearing, but pleaded guilty to the original charges, receiving an endorsement on his driving licence. His interest in the freemen on the land movement started after watching documentaries on conspiracy theories surrounding the September 11 attacks and London bombings. His solicitor, Phillipa Ashworth, stated "On this occasion, in hindsight he appreciates it was not the time to test out philosophical theories behind this approach to life, and in hindsight it isn't something he would do again."[51]
  • Gavin Kaylhem of Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, England, wilfully refused to pay his council tax debts of £1,268.54 accrued between 2001 and 2008 and was sentenced to 30 days' imprisonment. He had claimed that he was a "freeman" and thus had no contractual duty under common law to pay. He refused to co-operate with magistrates' questions.[52]
  • Mandeep Sandhu of Tividale, Sandwell, West Midlands, was stopped by police while driving a car that was insured to a woman. He refused to give his details to the officers, saying that to do so would mean "entering into a contract he could not afford to fulfil". He refused to co-operate at the police station and when brought before Sandwell Magistrates' Court, in October 2015, Sandhu was convicted of driving without insurance and obstructing police and was also found in contempt of court. He was sentenced to 14 days in prison for the contempt, and ordered to pay £330 in fines for the insurance charge with court costs and had 6 points added to his licence. A spokesperson for West Midlands Police said:[53]

    The whole process meant that a simple matter of driving without insurance took up hours of police time – and ultimately a stint behind bars after being convicted of contempt of court while defending himself. We hope this case acts as a warning that to obstruct the police and the courts is not a wise move.

  • Errol Denton, a live blood analysis practitioner, was charged with offences under the Cancer Act 1939. At Westminster Magistrates' Court, he used a freeman defence. Since both the prosecution and the defence were rare, it was reported in the press.[54] On 20 March 2014 he was convicted on all nine counts and fined £9,000 plus around £10,000 in costs.[55][56]
  • In June 2019, a man who refused to register his son's birth under the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953 lost an appeal to the London High Court after using a freeman defence. He cited an obscure law, the Cestui Que Vie Act 1666, and argued that registering the birth would be equivalent to "an entry into a ship's manifest", in which the child becomes "an asset to the country which has boarded a vessel to sail on the high seas", thus causing him to become controlled by the state. The judge ruled that the local council had the right to step in as the child's "institutional parent" to register the birth.[57]
  • Cases have also been reported in Gloucestershire and Somerset.[58][59]

Ireland

  • Bobby Sludds appeared in court in County Wexford in Ireland, charged with various motoring offences including two counts of no insurance. Before the police began to give evidence, the accused handed in a letter stating he was not Mr. Sludds but Bobby of the family Sludds and questioning the use of the word 'person' in the charge. He was given two suspended sentences and a fine of €670. (He had 24 previous convictions for motoring offences.)[60] A similar case occurred in County Wexford in 2013, with a bankrupt businessman imprisoned for contempt of court being returned to jail for refusing to recognise the authority of the court,[61] and, in 2022, in which a mortgage defaulter questioned the legitimacy of the court, a case which his financial provider won.[62]
  • Ben Gilroy took numerous court cases in the 2010s against several Irish banks and has represented people facing house repossessions. In 2018, he was banned by the High Court from taking further court cases against Allied Irish Banks and from advising others before the courts, due to his history of bringing forward frivolous and vexatious litigation. He has been jailed on three occasions for contempt of court.[63]

Australia

The following court cases have been based on the freeman argument:[64]

  • Essenberg v The Queen B54/1999 (High Court of Australia, 22 June 2000)[65]
  • Australian Competition & Consumer Commission v Rana (Federal Court of Australia, March–April 2008)[66]
  • R v Stoneman (Supreme Court of Queensland,30 July 2013)[67]
  • Van den Hoorn v Ellis (District Court of Queensland, 30 November 2010)[68]
  • Glew v White (Supreme Court of Western Australia, 10 July 2012)[69]
  • Elliott v Commissioner of Police (District Court of Queensland, 25 July 2014)[70]
  • Bradley v The Crown (Supreme Court of Queensland, 13 November 2020):[71] In 2019, Ross James Bradley appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court, in Queensland, Australia, after he was stopped by police and found to be driving without a licence. He was fined A$150 after he argued that police had no power to charge him or commence proceedings before the court. Bradley appealed to the Queensland District Court (QDC), arguing that he was a "sovereign citizen" and the laws of Queensland did not apply to him. Bradley sought leave to appeal the order made by the QDC to dismiss his appeal of the Magistrates Court decision to the Queensland Court of Appeal (QCA). At the QCA, President Sofronoff noted that, given his sovereign citizen arguments it was difficult to understand why Bradley was "agitating his claims before this court, one which was established under the laws he says do not apply to him". The judge noted that the "paradox was apparently lost" on the applicant and dismissed the appeal.[72]

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Edmonton

Edmonton

Edmonton is the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Edmonton is situated on the North Saskatchewan River and is the centre of the Edmonton Metropolitan Region, which is surrounded by Alberta's central region. The city anchors the north end of what Statistics Canada defines as the "Calgary–Edmonton Corridor".

Frivolous litigation

Frivolous litigation

Frivolous litigation is the use of legal processes with apparent disregard for the merit of one's own arguments. It includes presenting an argument with reason to know that it would certainly fail, or acting without a basic level of diligence in researching the relevant law and facts. That a claim was lost does not imply the claim in itself was frivolous.

Guelph

Guelph

Guelph is a city in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. Known as "The Royal City", Guelph is roughly 28 km (17 mi) east of Kitchener and 100 km (62 mi) west of Downtown Toronto, at the intersection of Highway 6, Highway 7 and Wellington County Road 124. It is the seat of Wellington County, but is politically independent of it.

Frank Valeriote

Frank Valeriote

Frank Valeriote is a Canadian politician. He was elected as the Liberal Member of Parliament in 2008 by a small margin over the Conservative candidate Gloria Kovach and subsequently served as MP until October 2015. Valeriote chose not to run in the 2015 federal election. In an interview with the Guelph Mercury newspaper in November 2014, he cited a desire to spend more time with his two young children. "I feel it is important in a meaningful way to be there for their millionth step as they enter their teenage years as it was to see their first step." In a later interview, he confirmed his plan to return to legal practice, "I'm physically, emotionally, and psychologically preparing for the move from member of parliament to an active lawyer at Smith Valeriote." On October 26, 2015, SmithValeriote Law Firm LLP welcomed Frank Valeriote back to the practice where he had been a senior partner until his election as a Member of Parliament.

Child custody

Child custody

Child custody is a legal term regarding guardianship which is used to describe the legal and practical relationship between a parent or guardian and a child in that person's care. Child custody consists of legal custody, which is the right to make decisions about the child, and physical custody, which is the right and duty to house, provide and care for the child. Married parents normally have joint legal and physical custody of their children. Decisions about child custody typically arise in proceedings involving divorce, annulment, separation, adoption or parental death. In most jurisdictions child custody is determined in accordance with the best interests of the child standard.

Contempt of court

Contempt of court

Contempt of court, often referred to simply as "contempt", is the offense of being disobedient to or disrespectful toward a court of law and its officers in the form of behavior that opposes or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court. A similar attitude toward a legislative body is termed contempt of Parliament or contempt of Congress. The verb for "to commit contempt" is contemn and a person guilty of this is a contemnor.

Norfolk

Norfolk

Norfolk is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in East Anglia in England. It borders Lincolnshire to the north-west, Cambridgeshire to the west and south-west, and Suffolk to the south. Its northern and eastern boundaries are the North Sea, with The Wash to the north-west. The county town is the city of Norwich. With an area of 2,074 square miles (5,370 km2) and a population of 859,400, Norfolk is a largely rural county with a population density of 401 per square mile. Of the county's population, 40% live in four major built up areas: Norwich (213,000), Great Yarmouth (63,000), King's Lynn (46,000) and Thetford (25,000).

Norwich Evening News

Norwich Evening News

The Norwich Evening News is a daily local newspaper published in Norwich, Norfolk, England. It covers the city and the surrounding suburbs, and is published by Archant. It is the best-selling newspaper in Norwich. As of 28 February 2011 the paper is printed for 6am, as the stories are written the day before.

Holderness

Holderness

Holderness is an area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, on the north-east coast of England. An area of rich agricultural land, Holderness was marshland until it was drained in the Middle Ages. Topographically, Holderness has more in common with the Netherlands than with other parts of Yorkshire. To the north and west are the Yorkshire Wolds. Holderness generally refers to the area between the River Hull and the North Sea. The Prime Meridian passes through Holderness just to the east of Patrington and through Tunstall to the north.

Kingston upon Hull

Kingston upon Hull

Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It lies upon the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber Estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea and 50 miles (80 km) south-east of York, the historic county town. With a population of 259,778 (mid-2019 est.), it is the fourth-largest city in the Yorkshire and the Humber region after Leeds, Sheffield and Bradford.

East Riding of Yorkshire

East Riding of Yorkshire

The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding or East Yorkshire, is a ceremonial county and unitary authority area in the Yorkshire and the Humber region of England. It borders North Yorkshire to the north and west, South Yorkshire to the south-west, and Lincolnshire to the south.

Cannabis (drug)

Cannabis (drug)

Cannabis, also known as marijuana among other names, is a psychoactive drug from the cannabis plant. Native to Central or South Asia, the cannabis plant has been used as a drug for both recreational and entheogenic purposes and in various traditional medicines for centuries. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive component of cannabis, which is one of the 483 known compounds in the plant, including at least 65 other cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol (CBD). Cannabis can be used by smoking, vaporizing, within food, or as an extract.

Professional advisories

Lawyers and notaries in British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, have been warned by their professional bodies about dealing with freemen as clients.[73] In particular, lawyers have been advised to be careful not to stamp or notarise the pseudo-legal documents that freemen typically use, so as not to create a perception of authority for such documents.[74]

Source: "Freeman on the land", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2022, November 27th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freeman_on_the_land.

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References
  1. ^ a b Kelly, Jon (11 June 2016). "The mystery of the 'legal name fraud' billboards". BBC News. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
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