I recently found out that a movement which is popular in America has reached our shores. The Freeman movement, otherwise known as Sovereign Citizens, consists of people who believe that it is possible to declare yourself no longer beholden to the laws of your country, and not liable to pay taxes. Normally the process involves filling in obscure government forms, opting out of government forms of ID such as driving licenses and passports and writing signed declarations using lots of very big legal sounding words.

There are some odd beliefs held by these people, such as the idea the world is ruled by maritime law, and that they can opt out of this and instead be ruled by common law by saying the magical words:

"Do you have a claim against me?"

In New Zealand, there's an online forum where people can swap tips and tricks on how to become a sovereign citizen and avoid the law. Some people believe that they have already managed to become sovereign citizens in NZ.

The New Zealand organised Freeman movement seems to revolve around the concept that a person can only be ruled by common law, and so the government creates a corporation in the name of each New Zealander. That "corporation" can then be subjected to all sorts of laws that would violate people's human rights and common law privileges. Your registered business number is your birth certificate number - which I guess means that, for people like me who were born overseas, we're quite possibly already technically Freemen?

Corporations need a person to run them - an officer. Therefore kiwis are "tricked" into becoming the officer of the company that represents them by signing for their passport, driver's license and bank account.

Unsurprisingly, whenever this idea has been tested in court - both here and overseas - it has been ruled that these people are still citizens, such as when Malcolm Daniel France tried to argue that the police only have jurisdiction over the "fictional entity" Mr France, whereas in a legal sense he is actually Malcolm-Daniel, who is a living, breathing man. The court appears to have not seen the distinction as valid.

There is also the case of Kiri Campbell, who tried to pass $65k in fake cheques. When caught, she claimed that she is a "freeman" and not subject to the laws of New Zealand. She also claimed that her attempted fraud was merely a protest against the corrupt banking system, rather than an illegal act. She was convicted of fraud.

Interestingly, Kiri Campbell apparently found out about the Freeman movement after becoming interested in alternative medicine.