Get Out of Jail Free?

Hooray! I’m back.

If you’ve been reading the legal blogs recently you will have witnessed a rare and beautiful thing: a broad group of lawyers being unanimous and unequivocal on what the law is.

I intend to add to that spectacle.

Comment is Free recently let some of the more disreputable parts of the #OccupyLSX crowd post on their site. Among them were a group that call themselves “freemen of the land”. Here are some of their articles:

Yes, Defaulting on Debts is an Option

Money has been Privatised by Stealth

Welfare, education and law at the Occupy Camp

Those first two articles’ titles might indicate that the authors have a certain estrangement from reality. Number three looks unobjectionable until you discover that it is written by a chap who goes around calling himself “commonly known as dom”. A bit Pythonesque (scroll through to 1:10).

Absurd titles aside, this group believes it’s discovered a series of amusing loopholes by which you can avoid the jurisdiction of the court and prevent people from chasing you for debts. This group runs sites like Get Out of Debt Free, that offer you meretricious pseudo-legal advice on how to do exactly that. A particular gem is the idea that if you capitalise your name, you forfeit all legal rights.

I’m not going to go into a detailed rebuttal, because they’ve been done elsewhere and I’d recommend you read them if you are interested.

UKHRB: Freemen of the Dangerous Nonsense

Carl Gardner: The law is not the enemy of protest but an essential tool of impartiality

Legal Bizzle (who has to endure these people for a living): Comment is free, but woo is sacred

All I will pick up on is how elementarily stupid the concept of exempting oneself from certain laws is. The Freemen appear to believe that statute law (or for that matter, a court) has no binding effect unless you consent to it. But let’s think about this. If you can opt out, so can anyone else. “Anyone else” includes debt collectors. So, if you opt out of the legal means for pursuit of a debt, the debt collectors can opt out of the sanctions against illegal means.

In other words, if I ran a debt collection agency I could opt out of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861, the Theft Act 1968, the Criminal Damage Act 1971 and the jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales. I could also opt out of the Law of Property Act 1925 and the Land Registration Act 2002.

Having done that bit of groundwork, I could then send some thugs round to what is commonly known as your home (I’ve opted out of the law of property so I don’t recognise your legal title to it), break into it (I’ve opted out of the CDA so it’s not a crime), take all your stuff (I’ve opted out of theft and burglary being offences), smash other stuff, then rough you up for good measure (no assault/ABH/GBH for me, I’ve opted out of the OAPA!). If I were to be taken to court or arrested, I’d just stand up and say something in latin, refuse to capitalise my name and say I don’t consent to the jurisdiction. Get out of jail free, pass Go and collect all your stuff.

If, despite all that the court gets the odd idea into its head that it might be able to exercise jurisdiction over a British subject, I will at the very least have done excellent groundwork for pleading insanity.

There is absolutely no reason why, under Freeman’s logic, this scenario wouldn’t be equally possible. Legal rights, or lack thereof, work both ways.

20 thoughts on “Get Out of Jail Free?”

  1. An excellent debunking, now (thankfully) one of many. I’ve been following these people for several months and frankly their methods annoy the crap out of me.

    See also the ‘Quatloos!’ forums for an insight into where all of this rubbish started.

  2. Thanks. Just had a look. For some reason it’s vaguely amusing when it’s not in your jurisdiction. Interesting how quickly their BS collapses once a judge says “if you don’t stop messing you about I’m imprisoning you for contempt”.

  3. “Once again, with great respect to Ms. Watson, she is simply wrong, as a moment’s thought would demonstrate”.

    I hate to think what Sir Nicholas’s idea of disrespect is.

  4. “I hate to think what Sir Nicholas’s idea of disrespect is”.

    With all due respect to Sir Nicholas, I think his idea of disrespect might be slapping a person around the face with a wet fish. ;-)

    (Actually, that might be *my* idea of disrespect….).

  5. Someone just tried to comment here. Unfortunately it got included with the Junk comments and I mistakenly deleted it. Whoever it was, I’m sorry. Please re-post what you said.

  6. Well you may be highly qualified in law but you have much to learn about life.
    I will refrain from making generalised sweeping statements, you seem to have cornered the market on that.
    I fear for the average man, woman and child when we have thoughts like this being posited round the higher echelons of authority.
    Thankfully we have a higher authority who deals with this type of humanity after the curtain closes, I look forward to meeting my maker and I have a clear conscience.

    Namaste, rev;

  7. Higher echelons of authority my backside. I’m at the bottom of the legal food chain.

    I’ll leave you to cornering the market in patronising cryptic statements.

  8. Whilst I agree with the article debunking the inaccuracies of the article, I do slightly disagree with one point.

    On a daily basis we see cases where white attacker and non-white victim is a racially aggravated offence (often regardless of the attackers reason), and a non-white attacker on a white victim is just the plain offence.

    Part of the problem is the buzz offences for Crown Prosecution Service are domestic violence and racially aggravated… They don’t want to be criticised or disciplined for not going for the buzz offence. Whereas for most other offences they’ll opt for the easier offence to prove.

  9. One of the so-called Freemen managed to penetrate Occupy London’s various appeals. See my commentary on that here: http://blog.scrapperduncan.com/2012/02/22/freeman-on-the-land-legal-woo-rubbished-by-court-of-appeal-in-occupy-london-judgment/

    These people are seriously dangerous because they prey on the needy and vulnerable, persuading them to waste their time and efforts on futile legal gestures. Loved your paragraph beginning “Having done that bit of groundwork… “

  10. Are we sure these freemen are not QC’s under cover like the Secret Millionaire or maybe they are aspiring trainee solicitors seeking to differentiate themselves from the thousands of others who still crave a career in the law.

  11. Excellent post :) This line actually had me in stitches:

    “If I were to be taken to court or arrested, I’d just stand up and say something in latin, refuse to capitalise my name and say I don’t consent to the jurisdiction.”

    I am also infuriated by these people, and have argued with several of them on Internet forums. Worryingly, one or two of them actually seemed to be of reasonable intelligence!

    Alas they won’t listen to common sense. I’d like to see what a freeman would have to say if he turned up for work and his boss told him to do one for no valid reason… As you say, you can’t have your cake and eat it!

  12. im with dom here, you cant own a man or a woman, the mear suggestion is repugnant. the peoples will is supreme and backed up by our constitution that cannot be repealed by government or monarch. the fact that it has been brushed under the carpet will just make our resolve to re establish it… 1689 still stands as a lawfull document, to go against that is an act of sedition and high treason. undeniable

    dom you carry on your path sir, you have the freedom and will to do what you like at common law…. no man is greater in statue than another.

  13. As I read through your wonderfully sharp di-section of the freeman movement, I couldn’t help but wonder when the man himself, Dom, would appear to chase after more undeserved accolades. I could be incorrect, I doubt it, but the ‘dom’ that left a comment, plus one of his many supplicants, seem to have come to the party a little late, so to speak.
    Dave, and I’m sure that’d be the chap that ‘walked the land’ with our Dom for some weeks a while back.
    Sadly they both are a particularly nasty pair. The kind that give genuine activists a bad name(tsk, tsk, tsk). So I can assure you Ben, their comments here were only sent to try and deride you as person and a legal minded individual.
    Poor Dom will post on anything he hears his name has been added to. Often Googling his name to find newer post/comments or downright put downs his name is linked with.

    Ben, you are a shining example to your, hopeful, profession. Keep it up my lad, you have a bright future ahead of you.
    Oh, and thank you for the belly laughs, keep ‘em coming.

  14. Interesting read. Bias to the extreme.
    I work in law, and have seen how some of these individuals can tie a solicitor or barrister in knotts, not to mention a magistrate. Some seem crazy, others are trojan horses as they ‘know’ what they are talking about.
    Not being bound to the BAR or the LS gives them freedom to say what they want, often with the full force of the law.
    We have to accept that legal channels are fast becoming in effective and becoming part of the problem, not the solution they were intended as.
    Ive never felt comfortable with the extent of lies, fraud and deceipt in legal practice, maybe we should all own up to playing a part in that, and accepting that ‘the people’ will only take this rubbish for so long…
    Its a subject that needs to be addressed, as I suspect it will not be going away any time soon…

  15. Paul,

    For someone who claims to work in the law, yet makes such bold statements, it seems to me you ought to declare who you are and what exactly you do in your legal practice. Otherwise I think readers have every right to treat such a loaded yet vague comment on a post that has been inactive for months on the subject of freemanry as thoroughly suspect.

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