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Magna Carta and common law

We are currently seeing a rapid rise in home educating families being lulled into listening to those who peddle what they refer to as ‘common law’ and ‘freeman’ rights. These groups are acting against the interests of every home educating family, as by peddling these untenable ideas they feed into public body fears about home education.

What are the facts:

No individual can exempt themselves from legislation and this has been clearly confirmed by a proliferation of punitive financial penalties.

To quote the ‘Secret Barrister’: ‘It is a species of what regular attendees at courts will recognise as the pseudo-legal rubbish peddled by self-styled “Freemen on The Land”, a grouping of proselytising individuals who believe that by misquoting Magna Carta and basic tenets of contract law, they can somehow place themselves outside the jurisdiction of the law of England & Wales. By making various incoherent and illogical assertions cloaked in legalese, they profess to be bound by “other” laws, such as the laws of the sea or long-repealed mediaeval treaties, and claim that the legal system has no control over them.’

What these groups are doing is feeding on the fears of people faced with situations that are stressful for them. They seek out the worried and peddle their pseudo law to them, but they are not there to pick up the pieces and pay the inevitable penalties that result from their interference. The poor home educating parent is left to pick up the pieces.

In the case of home education, those penalties can and do include fines which the parent will have to pay and children who may well be receiving a suitable education being forced into school. We are aware of some adherents to this cause having children taken into care and others being incarcerated for contempt of court.

We need to openly challenge this nonsense as it is causing very real harm to innocent people and we have a responsibility to say so.

The peddled wares

The primary peddled claim is that an individual can simply decline to consent to being subject to regulation. This is nonsense. There is no legal principle which requires consent for someone to be bound by the law. Parliament is sovereign and can make (or remove) laws. Individuals cannot simply declare that they do not consent to those laws.

What is ‘common law’

Common law, contrary to the ‘freemen’ contention, is the means by which the higher courts develop the law to fill gaps in legislation, by way of decisions made in those courts (legal precedent). Precedent must be interpreted consistent with legislation.

Parliament can also make new legislation which overrides prior precedent.

Every individual is bound by both forms of law and ‘common law’ cannot override primary legislation.

Individuals on trial in our criminal courts have declared themselves ‘freemen’ not subject to the law. To quote a barrister dealing with such cases, when asked how the prosecution reacts to such falsely based justifications in cases of contempt: ‘we send the blue light taxi’. In other words, individuals seeking to exempt themselves from the law by declaring themselves ‘free’ or subject to ‘common law’ will find themselves in front of the very courts they claim to be free from and fined, or worse.

The Canadian Courts have examined this claim at length and their findings are pertinent to home educating families in the UK:


Home Education facts of law

Your local authority is legally entitled to ask you for information about your education provision.

You are not legally obliged to respond to such enquiries but precedent (common law) states that if you do not do so, the local authority can consider whether a complete lack of information means that the education is not suitable. Government guidance makes this equally clear.

Any home educating parent who has been duped into listening to the pseudo law peddled by these sites is putting their children’s welfare and best interests at risk.

The information on the Education Otherwise website is legally accurate and can be relied upon.