A fake email is being circulated again on social networks. It purports to be confirmation from a large Irish (and international) firm of solicitors that the legal woo known as the Freeman on the Land brigade is actually true. The “email” itself is inexplicably circulated as a photograph of a printed version of it.
Text of fake email
Very interesting note from McCann Fitzgerald Solicitors – however on the governments website you’ll get fined if you don’t pay up…
“You won’t get a bill because the charge is a Statute. People need to understand this: A Statute is a “legislated rule of society given the force of law by the consent of the governed.” (Black’s Law Dictionary 4th edition). Who are those it governs?” Us, the public.
The household charge is a Stature, otherwise known as an Act of Government and only carries the force of law upon you if you consent to it which means that you are legally obliged to pay if you consent or in other words go on householdcharge.ie and register. Your silence and inaction will also give the appearance of no consent. If you do not consent, a Statute cannot affect you in any way whatsoever.
The courts know this and the last thing they will do is tell you. In fact they will hide this from you at every opportunity they can. On the other hand, if you tell them, they will accept it because they know it is actually true. According to the above definitions a statutory instrument is a contract. If you register for this “charge” you are consenting to this statute i.e.: signing the contract. This is why the Government are ASKING people to register and not just billing.
This email is from McCann Fitzgerald, Solicitors, Riverside One, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin 2.
Ph: +353 1829 0000 – Fax +353 1 829 0010 (Dublin Office)
Ph: +44 207 621 1000 – Fax +44 207 621 9000 (London Office) Ph:32 2 740 0370 – Fax: +32 2 740 0371 (Brussels Office)
Image being circulated
Although this sorry nonsense has been kicking around for so long that most of us imagined that it had been kicked into the long grass, it is now resurging on social networks. Normally emails are circulated in their entirety. However, it is obvious that this is not a complete email: there’s no header text, there’s the introductory note in blue, there’s the unattributed quote and there’s the badly formatted contact details for the law firm.
Whatever you think of lawyers, they make their reputations on being sticklers for accuracy and being authoritative. Generally, they don’t pop a handy quote into an email. If they do, they’re going to say who it is from. They trade on presentational skills, so they’re not likely to bodge the formatting of their standard issue contact details in an email footer.
Black’s Law Dictionary is now in its 9th edition. No respectable lawyer is going to deliberately mislead anyone by making reference to the 4th edition (published in 1951). Frankly, few lawyers use it at all. It’s a text which is best used as an introductory tool to learning law – a jumping off point. So much law is complicated by specialist jargon that it is difficult to make a start reading it. I used a law dictionary when I took my Common Professional Examination course, for a couple of weeks. Even then, it wasn’t a great deal of help. Once you’ve qualified, you no longer need a dictionary to read law. You just read it. Over time, with practise, you get better and better at reading it. Some texts are authoritative. For example, for the contract law of England & Wales you will find nothing more informative, well written, accessible and accurate than Chitty.
I’m no expert in Irish Law but I do know that there isn’t a jurisdiction in the world where statutes require individual consent to be enforceable. Imagine the practical difficulties! What would be the point of making one law for everyone, if everyone had to sign up to individually. It would be nothing more than a huge succession of private contracts.
Solicitors do not tend to CAPITALISE words or phrases in their correspondence. That’s because it is commonly understood to be shouting. It looks aggressive. Their letters might appear aggressive sometimes, often even, but that is usually down to the content of them or the impact of receiving one with an serious letterhead.
This document has got the fingerprints of legal woo pawed all over it:
- the reference to the 4th edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, which is a hallowed tome for the Freeman on the Land brigade. Despite their reverential treatment of it, they often misquote it.
- the emphasis on the need for personal consent to statute law
- the advice that doing nothing will have a positive effect
- the subject matter itself: avoiding taxes
These days the starting point for almost any enquiry as to the veracity of something is Google. Consequently, we learn that the Irish Times has reported that McCann Fitzgerald has denied the email has come from them. That report points us to an official statement from the firm itself, which says:
23 February 2012
McCann FitzGerald has learnt that a memorandum/e-mail purporting to come from the firm and relating to Household Charges is currently being distributed in social and other media. The memorandum/e-mail is not a McCann FitzGerald document, it has not been prepared by the firm, and it does not express a legal opinion of the firm.
We are investigating how our name has come to be associated with the memorandum/e-mail.
We would advise all media that they should not distribute, or permit the distribution of, this memorandum/e-mail.
For further information please contact Colette Campbell, WHPR, 01 669 0030.
Although they ask people not to circulate the “email”, I don’t think that applies to people exposing it as a fake.
It is difficult to understand the motive behind this document. It appears aimed at luring people into trouble with the authorities. Trouble which they won’t benefit from. The political Campaign Against the Household Charge in Ireland said:
“It’s very important that in standing together we will resist this charge, with mass co-operation in the communities. The information in these emails goes against what the campaign stands for.”
Gregor Kerr, Campaign Spokesman
Therefore, this is not part of that political campaign. The Freeman on the Land brigade often urge people to ignore taxes, train fares and the like. They are not charactised by a love of factual accuracy but it does seem particularly inept to rely on something which is so demonstrably fake. Perhaps it gained traction for a while because people today don’t generally have the time to check everything out properly… or at all? Having been rubbished when it first circulated earlier this year, it is now being shared again.
The risk is that vulnerable people with severe financial problems will get themselves into more difficulty, from which they won’t be able to extricate themselves because they will appear to have acted willingly.