Captain Ranty has a post about new HMRC guidelines that are starting to recognise Lawful rebellion and common law claims. I love their terminology, (go follow his link) “obscure legislation” indeed! It made me realise that in a small way I had also very recently seen an unexpected reference to common law.
Over the winter I, and another family member, have been acting as executors. As a result we have a small house to sell, which remains partly furnished but unoccupied pending its sale. To give credit where it's due most utility companies (BT significantly excepted) and indeed the local council have shown a surprisingly, considerate and helpful attitude, allowing us to keep water and electricity available free of standing charges and a short council tax holiday from the council. So the property is officially recorded as unoccupied here there and everywhere and it has a sale board outside to an agency in the same road. The previous occupant was entitled to an age related free licence for almost 20 years so it shouldn't take a rocket scientist to work out what's going on. Even so we are getting spammed by the TV licence collectors.
The last letter from them, edged in red and warning that “Enforcement Officers have now been authorised to visit” and “a visit could lead to prosecution, court and fine up to £1000” pushed me to my tipping point. I wrote back, informing them that the house was quite clearly unoccupied, no licence was therefore required. I additionally formally withdrew any assumed or implied consent for their employees or any agency working on their behalf to set foot on the property. (What they can authorise I can un-authorise, consent takes two parties!)
Their reply uses the wording “… to withdraw the common law right for TV Licensing’s officers to approach your property”. (Of course it goes on to explain that they will use other methods).
I find it interesting because I didn’t use the words ‘common law’, their customer relations department did. So I conclude they must have some knowledge of common law, and that suggests staff have been trained or briefed. A few years ago common law rights would never have been admitted by any authority. I think the authorities are starting to get rattled about it. Let’s just hope their increased awareness makes them conform to it.