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Sunday, 8 July 2012

Freeman on the Land - The Underlying Truth Part Two

Disclaimer - the following is based on my personal experience in the jurisdiction of Jersey and may not be applicable to other jurisdictions particularly those which are not common law jurisdictions. This is not legal advice which in any case would only be relevant if given with regard to the specific circumstances of the situation which gave rise to your need for advice, but it is my understanding of what the law actually means and I hope it is applicable generally.

Jersey does follow the demands of justice to a greater extent than many places and I am delighted to live in a relatively safe and pleasant place, but I would like it to be much better.

Myth Two - Every Statute is not a Law but a Contract
Myth Three - Statutes only apply to government employees

These common misconception are partly true, it is hard to unwind them individually to get to the bottom of them individually, indeed they need to be looked at together. Myth three is in fact not a myth at all, it is entirely true, but that may not help you in the way you think it does.

You may have read Interpretation (Jersey) Law 1954 which defines person as follows
“person” shall include any body of persons corporate or unincorporated;
Or the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 6 which states
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law
Both of which clearly demonstrate that there is a difference between a 'human being' and a 'person', a person is a 'legal entity' and whilst every human being has the right to be recognised as a 'legal entity' in every Court, everywhere in the world, it is not the only form of legal entity.

We also know from United Nations declaration on Human Rights Article 1 that
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
It would initially seem that there is a contradiction then between being free and having restrictions placed upon you, but actually there are no restrictions placed upon you by the Law as I shall explain.
In the last post in this series I looked at how a man becomes a person with reference to a particular status, every statute will set forth a series of responsibilities and duties which the individual who assumes the status is then bound by.

Each Statute is, except where specifically stated otherwise such as in the Interpretation (Jersey) Law 1954, considered entirely independently of any other law.

In the majority of statutes there is a series of offences listed and a penalty is set forth which may be applied by a Court to any individual who matches the criteria specified, i.e. who has the status set forth in the particular articles relating to offences.

Statutes do indeed for the most part, govern and regulate the operation of government and that includes the offences section. 

If you really read a statute it does not actually place any prohibition on any human being from carrying out any act, but it does proscribe a penalty which may be levied on any person who matches the status described in the statute.

For example in the Firearms (Jersey) Law 2000
32    Possession of unlawful weapons 
(3)    Any person who is in possession of any weapon or parts or ammunition contrary to this Article or who fails to comply with any condition imposed under paragraph (2) shall be guilty of an offence and liable to a fine or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years, or to both.
In this paragraph it defines a 'status' being that of 'in possession of any weapon or parts or ammunition' which is necessary to make a human being a 'person' under this statute and it sets out a liability being 'a fine or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both'.

So lets look at Myth 2 'every statute is just a contract' in some ways this does this look like a contract especially if you reworded it as an an offer 'if you want to pay a fine or serve a term of imprisonment of no more than three years or both then you must possess a weapon or part of a weapon or ammunition'.

But it is not a contract primarily because it is not intended to be legally binding, in other words, if you are in possession of a weapon or part or ammunition the government is not under an obligation to levy a fine, a term of imprisonment or both.

Now turning to Myth 3 'Statutes only apply to government employees' well that IS true. This statute gives government employees the power to act in a given circumstance. It gives government the power to levy a fine, or imprison you, or both if they can show that you were in possession of a weapon, part of a weapon or ammunition.

The Statute does not apply to every human being, it only applies to some government employees, but you may be affected by it.

Every charge in a Court will end 'thus rendering himself liable to pay the penalty set forth', I'm going to look into that bit next.