Author Archives: tm169

Peter Of England’s Were Bank scam starts to unravel. 

EDIT: This is not a site for Were Bank or Peter of England (read the posts!). If you have been a victim of his scam I suggest you contact local law enforcement and take legal advice. 

EDIT: The FCA have at long last posted a warning about Were Bank. 

Members of Quatloos have called out Peter on his scam bank right from the start. Nevertheless it appears uptake to Were Bank was fairly high, fuelled by ongoing and open endorsement from Mark “Ceylon” Haining on as well as various vocal Were bank members.

Although it appears no one has had any actual success using Peter’s phoney cheques, with any inadvertent crediting of accounts eventually reversed, the apparent lack of definitive action from Police or regulators has left those that warn of the consequences of were bank somewhat frustrated. However even on goodf former proponents are accusing Peter of propagating a scam.

Rob Swift, once a vocal supporter is a prime example of this change in position. And credit has to be given for admitting the error of his ways.

However in a recent post on goodf (now inevitably locked and moved from the main forum):

Questions remain unanswered about Peter’s Bank project:

  1. Will Peter be arrested and charged in relation to the fraud and regulatory offences he appears to have committed?
  2. Will any members face criminal charges or civil sanctions for fraud for using the cheques?
  3. Who is printing the latest batch of cheques?
  4. How long will Peter continue to succeed in recruiting vulnerable and gullible members?

Were Bank – Peter of England and his fake bank scam. 

Peter of England Goodf Interview So it has been some time since I have written on the OPCA movement. Real legal work has taken up a lot of my time. But a new development has caught my eye which is worthy of attention.

Peter of England (aka Alan Peter Michael Smith and variants thereof) is a fairly long-standing OPCA guru. Unusually he [claims] to be legally qualified (LLB) and has a slightly vague background including military service and running an investment software company.

Peter has launched various endeavours and his Freeman Legal Services is probably deserving of a post on its own but today I’m going to touch on his “Bank” Were Bank.

Apparently going for some time as part of Peter’s Re Movement the Were Bank has recently hit its stride and now claims hundreds of members.

Joining is simple. Pay £10 per month via Paypal (selecting the family and friends option so there are no charges for the seller and no refunds) and pay £25 for your very own RE cheque book complete with Allonges. You also have to lodge a £150,000 promissory note as some sort of collateral. Although Peter also has other “assets” in the form of bonds and his own 1% transaction tax.

The cheque books are fairly convincing and obviously professional printed but appear to be identical, lacking an account holders name, unique account number or valid sort code. Indeed the sort code appears to be Smith’s date of birth in reverse.

The allonge is a curious idea borrowed misleadingly from Section 32(1) Bills of Exchange Act 1882. From the French allonger (to lengthen) an allonge is a slip of paper annexed to a negotiable bill of exchange if there is not room on the back to write all the indorsements and are then deemed to be written on the bill itself.  Peter’s use of the allonge seems to be to add a layer of confusion as to why the cheque should be accepted.

The Bank has been heavily promoted by Ceylon, Get out of debt free and Peter of England’s site and Facebook page and he has had numerous sign ups from the credulous and desperate.

Peter’s motto of “Don’t fight it, just pay it!” is obviously appealing to OPCA followers who have failed to discharge various debts using the myriad of other process on goodf and elsewhere.

Facebook and Goodf shows that various people have signed up and jumped in at the deep end “paying off” mortgages, council tax bill, credit cards, legal aid bills and utilities. Some have written cheques for £120,000 to clear a mortgage whereas others have started small with buying a TV Licence.

Peter’s bank and his cheques are, in my view, fundamentally flawed on a number of levels. Aside from the technical difficulties which mean they will be unable to clear in the standard electronic clearing system. Peter’s bank has a number of legal issues.

  1. Peter’s institution is not a bank in that it is not regulated by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. If Peter is carrying on business without regulation could constitute criminal offence under Section 23 carrying a 2 year prison sentence as well as possible civil remedies for those affected.
  2. The printing, possession and use of the cheques is, in my view, likely to constitute both Criminal and Civil fraud if my understanding of how the cheques work is correct. The Fraud Act 2006 contains various criminal offences including Section 6 Possession etc. of articles for use in frauds, Section 7 Making or supplying articles for use in frauds and of course Section 2 Fraud by false representation.  In cheque type cases the false representation is that the cheque is genuine and would be honoured by being paid by the bank.  Some of Peter’s customers might be able to escape fraud charges if they can show that they didn’t knows that the representation (eg paying with a Were Cheque) is, or might be, untrue or misleading. Actual knowledge that the representation might be untrue is required not awareness of a risk that it might be untrue. Incidentally Peter mentions the cheques were printed by Communisis. Especially interesting as Communisis are an accredited printer
  3. It appears the cheques will not be cleared. Even on Peter’s own case it is unclear if he intends or has the means of paying the cheques if and when payment is demanded. It is equally unclear if he intends to pay in pounds or in his own Re Unit currency.
  4. Payment by cheque could easily reset any possible statute barred debts as they would likely constitute acknowledging the existence of a debt in writing.
  5. Paying for something by cheque engages the “cheque rule” which means writing a cheque is an unconditional promise to pay irrespective of the underlying contract. If a cheque bounces the aggrieved party has two options, to sue under the contract for non-payment or to sue on the cheque for failing to pay on demand, often a swifter process and affording no real defence.

Unsurprisingly Peter’s scheme has already started to go awry.

Initial excitement developed when balances were zeroed on some accounts, although any user of cheques will know that until the 6 day clearing period is up it is common for cheques to be credited only for the balance to be reversed later down the line.

Soon the negative reports started coming in:

“Emily Love-Light D
30 April 13:05
Hi Peter, Barclaycard have called again and said I’ve been issues with fraudulent cheques from their intelligence. He won’t say what it is. And he said he’s called were bank. I asked what makes him think it’s fraudulent and does her know where Barclays funds originate from! He early doesn’t know it’s the federal reserve. But they’re saying they will dishonour the cheque”

“Benjamin L
1 May 09:30
Morning again. It looks like natwest are not accepting them. Had a look this morning at my credit card online and the payment is showing but the balance has changed back to what it was, unlike yesterday when it was showing a zero balance. What do u think is happening?”

“Cindy H
2 May at 00:15
 Benjamin this is similar to my experience. I got a message in my account (and a letter) saying the account was now paid in full. Then I noticed another message this morning saying ‘unpaid cheque’. I think the bank accepts the cheque and then it gets stopped at clearing cos of the sort code. They don’t seem to be using the clearing hotline”


Peter has become increasingly angry:


4 May at 12:59 · 

SEVERAL MEMBERS HAVE “COMPLAINED” saying they have been accused of FRAUD or have been told the cheque is “fraudulent”. This is nonsense and can easily be disproved, but look at it from the bankers POV. This word is inappropriately used. 

They [our ReMembers] are NOT helping their own cause or case as they ReFuse to follow the BIBLE = Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth and they have & continue to make errors, which aren’t too serious BUT cause confusion in the minds of the bank clerks and clearers.
Upon speaking to them [ReMembers] and asking the following questions they reply often as follows and some have MADE EVERY SINGLE MISTAKE BELOW ON THE SAME PRESENTMENT!!

  1. Did you sign the cheque on the back = YES = MISTAKE

2.Did you make it payable to the entity asking for the money? NO= MISTAKE

  1. Did you make it payable to the POST OFFICE? YES= MISTAKE
  2. Have you tried to pay it into your own account or an account in your name? YES= MISTAKE

5.Did you attach an allonge to your cheque or enclose one? NO = MISTAKE

 7 May at 19:19 · 


Hi Peter,

I know you’re busy and under pressure and I’m not being rude but I am being asked questions all the time. Get out of Debt Free members are also getting restless too.

Unfortunately a lot of people are concerned as they are not seeing any results at the moment and don’t know if cheques have been honoured, as there is no way of checking what is going on. How long is it going to be before the site has access to internet banking?

If you need help this weekend I can make myself available to you for a few hours to help with the back log. I know you have the meeting on the 23rd but that is a long way off and then there is going to be the period of set up too.

Can you let me know what is going on so I can let the others know?

Many thanks 
Much is happening I don’t have time to comment on it all.Several people have confirmed that their accounts have been CONFIRMED TO ZERO.

Others have said accounts were zeroed and then a week later re-adjusted back.You must decide the legality of that – if you acted upon it…they have a fiduciary liability to provide “accurate accounting!”

Others say that their bank has said that they phoned WeRe Bank and “we” refused to clear the cheque. Utter rubbish! And common sense says there could be no truth in this and we would gain nothing!

Others (bank operatives) say it’s FRAUD and there is no money to clear the cheques and they(the DRAWER , er you) have therefore been duped!

Now, Let’s get a few things straight for the ReCord, should we!

I have led you towards the “”Promissory Note Land”” but you too have got to get a grip of yourselves and fight for what YOU CLAIM THE CHEQUES TO BE nothing short of your inheritance:

Post this on GOODF:
1. If you have stapled an Allonge to the cheque…
2. If you have NOT signed it on the back….
3. If you have NOT made it payable to SELF/CASH or your own company or a friend…
4. If they have zeroed your account and then re-adjusted it
5. If they say WeRe Bank refused to clear it or that you have been duped etc….
6. If they claim fraud etc…..
7. And you have made Notarial Protest….


WeRe Bank…and you are calling them as a witness for the PROSECUTION….Ok?

So, now off with the wingeing and on with the battle – what did you expect? For the enemy just to roll over and play dead – after thousands of years of domination?

Man up – all of you, get some steel in your spines and on with the task



Paypal and Peter’s personal building society Nationwide have not taken matters lying down either.

Peter Of England
Just to let everyone know that I’m still alive, well and getting on with the decision for change….
1. PayPal have taken down the account and won’t communicate with me.
2. Nationwide B/Soc have disappeared my account and I can’t, as of 10am this morning, tell me why.
3. The website has been taken off line by someone transferring the site to elsewhere it has NOT been hacked
4. Much rumour travels faster than the speed of light – I’m not going anywhere and am pushing ahead with clearing your cheques and helping you towards a more free and equitable existence which all the critics wold with-hold from you. So if you find out who they are, if they ever dare show, then you’ll know what their intentions towards you are. Peter

Like many other OPCA schemes the only person benefiting in the medium to long term is going to be Peter who has no doubt made some serious money from this. As for his customers they are going to put themselves deeper in debt and at risk of criminal prosecution. Time will tell if the justice system will catch up with Mr Smith too, but like most failed schemes I have no doubt this will quietly slip from the radar in the next few weeks as things continue to unravel for Were Bank and its unfortunate victims / customers.

I’m grateful to members of Quatloos anti-fraud forum who drew my attention to Peter’s Bank and have written many wise and interesting things in the increasingly large thread dedicated to Peter here 


How to draft a defence

Looking through OPCA websites I have seen a common thread of poorly drafted defences.

Whilst, as I have said elsewhere the bulk of defences advocated by and other websites are ill founded and have no real prospect of succeeding I think in the interests of a just disposal of the proceedings it would be prudent to give some advice on how to draft a defence with some template examples. As always I provide no warranty as to the accuracy of this advice and suggest that anyone in the position of defending a claim of any kind takes urgent independent legal advice.

The starting point is the basic rules for defences as set out in CPR r16.5

I’ll deal with each in turn:

(1) In his defence, the defendant must state –

(a) which of the allegations in the particulars of claim he denies;

(b) which allegations he is unable to admit or deny, but which he requires the claimant to prove; and

(c) which allegations he admits.

This means that for every single point raised in a Claim form or Particulars of Claim you have to respond to each point and either admit, deny or “put to proof”.  You must give one of these 3 responses to each point of the claim.


It is usual to admit anything you know to be true and also anything uncontroversial.  Doing otherwise wastes the court time and will not go down well with the judge. The most obvious thing to admit is the parties,  dates of contract formation etc.


If you deny an allegation you must be prepared to make a positive case which contradicts the allegation in question. You cannot just deny an allegation and expect that to be enough. Every allegation you deny you must be prepared to produce evidence and/or a counter argument.

Unable to admit or deny but require to prove     

This is generally for things outside of your knowledge which you can’t admit or deny but want them to prove.

(2) Where the defendant denies an allegation –

(a) he must state his reasons for doing so; and

(b) if he intends to put forward a different version of events from that given by the claimant, he must state his own version.

This is the rule against “bare denials” and is very important.

I think it’s important here to compare the position in civil claims to criminal law.

In criminal law essentially a bare denial is permitted. You can simply say “not guilty” then (subject to a few exceptions) remain totally silent and ask the prosecution to prove each and every element of the offence.

In civil law the rules are crucially different. In civil “he who asserts must prove” that means that the claimant has a burden to prove their claim but also the defendant has a burden to prove their defence.  Thus a bare denial or simply putting the Claimant to proof is not generally enough. Its important to bear this in mind when considering any defence.

Reasons  and own version of events

If you deny and allegation you have to give your own version of events and why you deny it. This can sometimes appear pedantic but is essential to follow the rules.

A defence essentially has two purposes: to deal with the Claimant’s allegations and to put your own case in response.

(3) A defendant who –

(a) fails to deal with an allegation; but

(b) has set out in his defence the nature of his case in relation to the issue to which that allegation is relevant,

shall be taken to require that allegation to be proved.

This simply states that you can, in some cases, implicitly put the claimant to proof on an allegation if you put forward a different version of events in your whole defence.

(4) Where the claim includes a money claim, a defendant shall be taken to require that any allegation relating to the amount of money claimed be proved unless he expressly admits the allegation.

This is straightforward enough

(5) Subject to paragraphs (3) and (4), a defendant who fails to deal with an allegation shall be taken to admit that allegation.

Again consider the difference between criminal and civil cases. Failing to deal with an allegation is a good as admitting it. That is why you need to be very careful with what you deny and admit because silence equals admitting.


Whilst not essential for litigants in person, it is good practice to get the formalities right. Here are a few pointers:

  1. A defence is a statement of case not a letter or essay or anything else
  2. Do not address your defence to anyone
  3. Title your defence “Defence”
  4. Write in numbered paragraphs
  5. Put the proper headings including the name of the court, claim number and party names
  6. Refer to the Claimant as the Claimant and yourself as “the Defendant”
  7. Write in the 3rd person “It is denied that the Defendant…” not  “I deny that I…”
  8. Always end your defence with the usual statement of truth



Here are some worked examples:

First I think its useful to look at a Particulars of claim – this is the long form particulars of claim although you will often see creditors using the short form.


IN THE MOLD COUNTY COURT                                                                       Claim Number 1234


A Bank Ltd



Mr David Debtor



  1. On or around 15 December 2010, the Claimant entered into a written credit card agreement with the Defendant (‘the Agreement’), a copy of which is attached
  2.  The following were express terms of the Agreement:
                •         the Claimant would provide the Defendant with a credit card;
                •         the Claimant would provide the Defendant with running-account credit for, among other things, cash withdrawals and purchases made by the Defendant using the card;
                •        the Claimant would provide the Defendant with monthly statements showing the balance outstanding under the Agreement;
                •       the Defendant would make minimum payments each month of 3% of the balance shown to be outstanding under the Agreement in the monthly statement for the previous month or, if less, £5, or the entire balance if it was less than £5, by the date stated in the monthly statement, which would be at least 20 days after the date of the monthly statement;
                •       interest would be charged at a variable rate, currently: 8% per month on cash withdrawals, purchase of currency, and travellers cheques, 12% per month on other drawings, interest (other than interest on default sums3) and charges,

6save that interest would not be charged in respect of any purchase where the Defendant repaid the credit provided for the purchase by the payment date following the monthly statement in which a record of the purchase appeared;

  •   interest would be calculated on a daily basis and added to the balance on each monthly statement date;
  •  the Claimant could terminate the Agreement at any time by giving the Defendant at least 2 months’ written notice, beginning with the day after the day on which the notice was served
  • on the expiry of such a notice, the Defendant was immediately to pay the balance outstanding under the Agreement to the Claimant.

7. On 10 February 2014 the Claimant served written notice on the Defendant, by which the Claimant terminated the Agreement on 10 April 2014 and required the Defendant to repay the balance outstanding under the Agreement on that date

8. On the date of termination, the balance outstanding under the Agreement was £10,000 The Defendant has failed to pay that sum or any of it.

The Claimant is entitled to and seeks interest:

  1. on £1500 of the balance outstanding at the date of termination, which arose from cash withdrawals and purchase of currency, at the contractual rate of 8% per annum from 10 April 2014 until the date of issue of the Claim Form and thereafter until judgment or sooner payment;
  2. on £5000, the remaining balance outstanding at the date of termination, at the contractual rate of 12% pa from 10 April 2010 until the date of issue of the Claim Form and thereafter until judgment or sooner payment.




(1)     £10,000 

(2)     Interest



The Claimant believes that the facts stated in these Particulars of Claim are true.






IN THE MOLD COUNTY COURT                                                                   Claim Number AB1234

A Bank Ltd



Mr David Debtor



1)      Paragraphs 1 to 8 of the Particulars of Claim are admitted but it is denied, for the reasons set out below, that the Claimant is entitled to the relief claimed or any relief.

2)      On 10 January 2014, the Defendant sent a written request to the Claimant, together with payment of £1, in respect of the agreement referred to in paragraph 1 of the Particulars of Claim (‘the Agreement’), asking for:

a)      a copy of the document which embodied the terms of the Agreement and which had been signed by or on behalf of the parties (‘the Executed Agreement’);

b)      a statement signed by or on behalf of the Claimant showing:

i)        the state of the account;

ii)       the amount, if any, then payable under the Agreement by the Defendant to the Claimant; and

iii)     the amount and due date of any payment which, if the Defendant did not draw further on the account, would later become payable under the Agreement by the Defendant to the Claimant.

3)      Contrary to Section 78(1) of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (‘the Act’), the Claimant has failed to comply with the request referred to in paragraph 2 above.

4)      On 20 January 2014, the Claimant sent the Defendant a document which it described in its covering letter as a copy of the Executed Agreement, together with a statement of account in respect of the Agreement but the said document:

a)      was illegible contrary to regulation 2(1) of the Consumer Credit (Cancellation Notices and Copies of Documents) Regulations 1983 (‘the Copies of Documents Regulations’)3; and

b)      did not contain [the statutory statements of protection which would have been contained in the Executed Agreement as required by regulation 2(3) and Schedule 2 to the Consumer Credit (Agreements) Regulations 19834 or the statement explaining how and when the Defendant can terminate the Agreement which would have been contained in the Executed Agreement as required by regulation 3(2) and paragraph 29 of Schedule 1 to the Consumer Credit (Agreements Regulations 20105], contrary to regulation 3(1) of the Consumer Credit (Cancellation Notices and Copies of Documents) Regulations 1983 (‘the Copies of Documents Regulations’)

5)      By reason of the facts and matters set out in paragraphs 2 to 4 above and by reason of Section 78(6)(a) of the Act, the Claimant is not entitled to enforce the Agreement.


Dated 8 March 2014


I believe or that the facts stated in this Defence are true.




You’ll see in this defence the Defendant has admitted pretty much everything but is questioning the enforceability of the agreement.


Here is another example with short particulars of claim:


Particulars of Claim

‘1. The Claimant claims the sum of £3000.00 being monies due from the Defendant to the Claimant under a regulated agreement between the Defendant and A Bank PLC, Account number 123455 and assigned to the Claimant on 15 January 2014 notice of which has been provided to the defendant.

2. The defendant has failed to make payment in accordance with the terms of the agreement and a default notice has been served pursuant to the Consumer Credit Act 1974

3. The Claimant claims the sum of £3000.00 and costs

4. The Claimant has complied with the Practice Direction on Pre-action conduct.


[Headings as above]


1)      Save to admit that there is a regulated agreement between the Defendant and A Bank PLC; paragraph 1 of the particulars of claim is denied. The Defendant did not receive notice of the alleged assignment until 20 February 2014. In the notice the date of the alleged assignment was stated to be 1 February 2014 and the notice is therefore ineffective.

2)      The Defendant admits the non-payment set out in paragraph 2 of the Particulars of Claim but denies that he is liable to pay the Claimant pursuant to the demands or at all.

3)      The default notice referred to in paragraph 2 (‘the Default Notice’) did not comply with the requirements of Section 88 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 (‘the Act’) and was not in the form prescribed by the Consumer Credit (Enforcement, Default and Termination Notices) Regulations 1983 (‘the Regulations’)


 a)      The amount payable to remedy the breach was stated to be £4500 when in fact the amount payable by the Defendant under the Agreement was £2500

b)      There was no statement in the form prescribed by regulation 2(2) and paragraph 7 of Schedule 2 to the Regulations

c)        Contrary to Section 88(2) of the Act, the date specified as the date by which the amount referred to in paragraph 2.1 above was required to be paid was 15 January 2014, which was less than 14 days after the date of service of the Default Notice, which was sent to the Defendant by second-class post on 8 January  2014 and was not delivered until 10 January 2014.

4)      By reason of the facts and matters set out above, the Defendant denies that the Claimant is entitled to the relief claimed in the Particulars of Claim or to any relief.


I hope that is of some use.

Remember defending a claim is not always the best approach. Even if you feel you have a good defence be aware of the risks of engaging in ligation and the additional costs that could be incurred by defending a claim if you are unsuccessful.


Many disputes on goodf directly or indirectly involve disclosure whether it be disclosure of the “original agreement”, Deeds of Assignment or mortgage documents.

To what extent borrowers are entitled to view these documents and what use they would be if they were disclosed is another matter for another time.

For the meanwhile however I thought it would be useful to how disclosure works and how to request copies of documents if you in a legal dispute.

Firstly it should be clarified there are two separate processes here:

Disclosure – which is disclosing the existence of documents often in a list

Inspection – which is where the other party actually gets to look at the document usually by being provided with a photocopy.

Pre- action disclosure

Where pre-action protocols  (‘PAP’) apply, such as in Personal Injury claims there are various requirements for disclosing key documents at an early stage such as in the Letter before Claim. Even in cases where there is no specific PAP, the Practice Direction on Pre Action Conduct applies and requires a certain degree of disclosure at an early stage by listing the documents the Claimant relies upon. Annex  B puts additional requirements on lenders. At this stage both parties are able to ask for copies of documents which must be used only for purposes of resolving the dispute.

Documents mentioned in Statements of Case.

If a party mentions or alludes to a document in a statement of case (eg in the particulars of claim) or in a witness statement the other party is entitled to inspect it under CPR r31.14(1).

The process for inspecting such a document is to send a written notice asking to inspect the document under r31.15. ©

Standard Disclosure                                                                                                                

In fast track and multi-track trials direction are made at the allocation stage. Generally these are for standard disclosure which comes under CPR 31.6:

Standard disclosure – what documents are to be disclosed

31.6  Standard disclosure requires a party to disclose only–

(a) the documents on which he relies; and

(b) the documents which –

(i) adversely affect his own case;

(ii) adversely affect another party’s case; or

(iii) support another party’s case; and

(c) the documents which he is required to disclose by a relevant practice direction.

Fishing expeditions

The courts do not allow disclosure to be used for “fishing” for a possible case. Thus if you don’t have a good case but hope on the off chance that disclosure will reveal a possible case you will not be allowed to speculatively request disclosure.

What is a document

Pretty much anything is covered by the definition of document as it covers “anything on which information is recorded” (CPR r31.4) and thus can include electronic data, emails, text messages, photos, video and sound.


Disclosure will be made by serving a list of documents and a disclosure statement setting out what search has been made and that the disclosing party (not the solicitor) understands the duties of disclosure.  Documents that have been lost, destroyed or given to another party must still be disclosed.

Privileged documents

Privileged documents must be disclosed but do not need to be inspected. Privilege often arises from a Lawyer / Client relationship but can also include self-incrimination. When disclosing a document a party thinks is privileged they must say why they think it is on the disclosure forms.


Once documents have been disclosed the other party can inspect them. (CPR 31.15. Inspection of original documents can take place by arranging in person inspection of the original documents. Alternatively the inspecting party can ask for photocopies subject to paying photocopy costs. (CPR 31.15(c)) ©


Passages with sensitive information can be blanked out. This is especially relevant if the document requested contains personal details of other customers. (Webster v Ridgeway [2009] ELR 439)

Application for disclosure or inspection.

Where a party fails or refused to disclose or allow inspection the other party can apply for an order to force specific disclosure or specific inspection under the process in r31.12. Such an application must be made on notice on form N244 and be supported by written evidence (ie a witness statement) and must specify what documents are sought.

Authenticity of Documents

Under r32.19 a party shall be deemed to admit the authenticity of a document disclosed to him under unless he serves notice that he wishes the document to be proved at trial. Such a notice must be served on the other party by the latest date for serving witness statements or within 7 days of disclosure of the document, whichever is later.

Word of Warning

Don’t look at these disclosure measures as some for of “get out of debt free” card. Bear in mind that disclosure and inspection of the relevant documents might not help you in the ultimate outcome of your case and consider carefully the cost consequences of engaging in protracted battles over disclosure which might not get you anywhere regardless of the outcome.

On a related but slightly different subject this article has some interesting cases and pitfalls with regard to enforceability and orginal CCA agreements. Well worth a read.

Common legal confusions

I’ve noticed a pattern of reoccurring errors in “legal advice” given on UK OPCA websites. These errors go beyond the legally incorrect underpinning theories discussed elsewhere and are erroneous regardless of whether or not you believe in Freeman / Sovereign Citizen legal ideas.   I thought I’d list a few here to get started and continue to update the post as I spot other errors.

Incorrect court

Many OPCA websites mention starting claims in the Magistrates’ Court. Aside from a few very limited exceptions this is not the correct venue. Magistrates deal with crimes, some family matters and a small handful of civil claims.

Most of the cases which are suggested as being suitable for the Magistrates’ Court in OPCA literature are in fact civil claims best commenced in the County Court or exceptionally the High Court.

Section 6(1) of the Prosecution of Offences Act 1985 retains the common law right for an individual or corporate body to make a private prosecution. These are commenced by serving an ‘information’ on the court (Criminal Justice Act 2003, s. 30(4)(b) and CrimPR, r. 7.2(1)). Various offenses are suggested as being appropriate for such a prosecution including fraud, and misconduct in public office. Potential DIY prosecutors should note the wide powers of the DPP to take over and shut down s. 42(1)(c) of the Senior Courts Act 1981. Furthermore the high standard of proof required for a private prosecutions makes it totally unsuitable for all but the most brazen crimes and not speculative accusations of fraud. Nor is the system suitable or permitted to be used as a threat to resolve a civil matter. If it is genuinely believed a crime has been committed as always the Police and regulatory bodies should always be the first point of call before attempting private criminal proceedings.

Mixing of English and Foreign law 

This is perhaps the most common error in OPCA litigation and advice. It can further be divided into two headings.

Confusion as to what constitutes US law

The North American flavor of OPCA legal theories combined with the eagerness to reproduce and adapt the templates of other gurus has led to a confusing blend of US and English law where the maker or user of the document is unaware of which areas are English or North American. The Goodf letters discussed elsewhere are typical of this and illustrate the problem well in that they ask for “Verification of your claim against me (a sworn affidavit or a hand signed invoice in accordance with The Bills of Exchange Act (1882))” which miraculously manages to switch from US to English law in mid sentence.

The same confusion in jurisdictions is evident in reliance on old editions of Black’s Law Dictionary, the freeman bible, which naturally does not apply to English law. An (up to date) dictionary such as Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary  or Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary would be far more useful, in so much as a dictionary helps with understanding complex legal issues.  

Belief that US law and English law are equally applicable. 

Even more preposterously, some OPCA enthusiasts, when confronted with evidence or assertions that the doctrines are based on US law seek to show that US law applies in England and Wales. This argument is most evident in debating if the Uniform Commercial Code (‘UCC’) applies in England. I have seem some Goodf members that the U stands for universal and is therefore binding in this jurisdiction. There are also confused and erroneous ideas relating to corporate listing in US directories and / or the inclusion of nation states in the listings of credit rating agencies. This has led to the bizarre and ill informed assertion that the UK and other nations are listed as a limited company within the US and hence under some sort of universal jurisdiction emanating from the USA.  It has also been suggested that the UK’s membership of standardization organisation UNIDROIT imparts some sort of universal legal code. Without going into these claims in detail it suffices to say that even a basic understanding of the differences betwen English and US law and the hierarchies between international and domestic laws dispels these theories conclusively.

More to follow

The Audio-Visual freeman club.

Having been learning law for some 7 years at various different levels of higher education it has struck me that law is, generally speaking, written down. The primary way to learn it is to read a text book or practitioners book on the subject and use the copious references provided to follow research through by reading case law or statutory provisions.

Those coming to law from other academic disciplines will be perhaps surprised and a little overwhelmed by the sheer number of footnotes one will find in say a volume if Hailsbury’s Laws of England. Sometimes almost every word is footnoted with a case citation, subsection reference or journal article.

Practitioner’s books can also be surprisingly concise, dealing with a fairly complex concept in a few densely footnoted pages.

Whist lectures clearly have their place in many areas of law, a lecture dealing with substantive law will be necessarily punctuated with case and statutory citations and often requires a lengthy handout.

Thus I find it interesting to note that a great deal of OPCA and freeman materials are delivered in audio format. Either recorded multi-part lectures, YouTube videos, and perhaps most bizarrely extended phone conversations between two or more freeman gurus.

Often the length of these recordings is astounding, of David Icke proportions. A 3 hour video or 6 hour set of audio recordings is by no means unusual. Sometimes watching or listening to these many hours is considered some sort of right if passage into the community or perhaps a shibboleth to separate the serious from the curious.

Often the recordings lack structure and may meander between multiple topics. Generally speaking there are no specific citations and fact and theory become somewhat merged.

The cynical would no doubt suggest the reliance of informal audio recordings in lieu of written documents with detailed citations is required as citations would not support the content of the theories. Furthermore the spoken word gives a persuasive force to unsubstantiated claims and allows glossing over of contradictory or weak information.
Undoubtedly many of the speakers are reasonable skilled speakers and purport to offer entertainment and “education”.

Clearly the medium, (despite ludicrous length) is more accessible to lay-persons than reading dry (but accurate) legal books. The cost of law books, especially practitioner’s volumes is also prohibitively expensive. Perhaps the legal system has a lesson to learn that if you make law difficult and expensive to learn it will allow vulnerable people to fall into the arms of rhetorically persuasive but legally useless OPCA videos.