Ascent Legal, one of the UK’s leading specialist recoveries law firms, has reported a 10% increase in bogus ‘freeman on the land’ defences filed by defendants facing unsecured and secured debts.
The core principle of the ‘freemen’ belief is that all statute law is contractual, and that such law is applicable only if an individual consents to be governed by it. As a result, its believers facing legal action for their debts believe they can claim themselves independent of government law, and therefore not liable to pay the money owed.
Ascent operates on behalf of the leading high street lenders including Santander, Lloyds Banking Group, Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC and has noticed a spike in this form of defence.
Head of legal for Ascent, Myra Scott, said: “The reason for an increase in this bizarre form of defence is because there are a growing number of internet groups purporting to offer debt avoidance schemes to vulnerable debtors. However, there is clearly no basis whatsoever to make a successful ‘freeman’ claim. Instead, we would urge these debtors to contact money charities as a more constructive means of assistance.
“Although it is a strange defence, it can be successful at delaying court proceedings and so postpone having to start paying back debt. Yet, this is not a good outcome as it only succeeds in defendants accumulating more daily interest charges which are added onto the original debt owed.”
Typically, a freeman style defence involves defendants employing unusual name motifs, supplying bogus addresses, and claiming themselves sovereign from Acts of Parliament .They believe that the only true law is Common Law whereby their only legal requirements are to not harm others, not damage the property of others and not use ‘fraud or mischief’ in contracts.
In a recent high profile freeman case, the defendant claimed to be able to pay the sum of the mortgage debt owed by presenting a falsified cheque to the courtroom. Unsurprisingly, the judge ordered that the application to appeal the lender’s warrant of possession was ‘wholly without merit’ as no credible legal case was put forward.
Myra Scott added: “It is our view that lenders faced with such freeman arguments should consider a robust approach. It will often be the case that an application for summary judgement or strike out is appropriate.”
Established in 2009, Ascent has grown on average 50% per annum with 2013/14 revenues exceeding £10m.