Hi everyone. It turns out we are all dead.
I’m not sure in our current political climate whether that is a shock or a blessed relief to us all. It certainly explains a lot.
Hayden J was dealing with an application under section 33 (and the inherent jurisdiction) for a Local Authority who held an interim care order to register the child’s birth, the father strenuously objecting to the birth to be registered.
Because we are dead, obviously.
That’s not fair. Some people aren’t dead, but those people are under seven and not reading my blog.
If you are over seven, you are legally dead *
(*is the argument being put forward in this case. It is NOT my opinion, and anyone contacting Norwich Union in the hope of getting their life insurance payout may be out of luck. Not least because they are Aviva now)
T (A child), Re  EWHC 1572 (Fam) (12 June 2019)
But before I even get into explaining why we are all legally dead, here’s a picture of Blue. Which will also be skilfully woven into this delicious narrative. Buckle up, buckaroo.
- F has strong beliefs surrounding the concept of “sovereignty”. This is a very particular concept for him. It has nothing at all to do with contemporary debate. It is essentially a personal ideology. F believes that central to the concept is the power and writ of the individual. ‘We are each…’, he says, ‘our own sovereign. We come from the Earth, we are the creations of the universe. We are governed by a Common Law but only to the extent that we depart from three principles. These three imperatives are: to do no harm; to cause no loss; to inflict no injury.’ In circumstances where they are proved to have occurred, to the criminal standard of proof, F asserts that what he calls the Common Law is then triggered.
- He places great emphasis on The Cestui Cue Vie Act 1666. In the 1666 Act Section 1, F tells me, there are provisions which state ‘that if a title or living being does not prove themselves alive after 7 years they are considered lost at sea. This is the means for government to take control of the dead entity’s property.’ F believes this to be the route by which the government ‘help themselves to money and property.’ We are in such circumstances considered ‘dead entity in the eyes of the law.’ In a graphic and powerful metaphor F states to me that we ‘come to life and are temporarily risen from the dead when summonsed to court’. The requirement to ‘all rise’ when the judge enters the court is symbolic of rising for the resurrection. These views may sound unusual and somewhat eccentric. They are, however, genuinely held and I have done my best to summarise them.
- It is in this context that when a birth is registered, F considers this to be the equivalent of an ‘entry into a ship’s manifest’, in which the child becomes ‘an asset to the country which has boarded a vessel to sail on the high seas.’ This facet of admiralty and maritime law is pervasive in F’s thinking. The essence of F’s objection is his belief that registration will cause his son to become controlled by a State which he perceives to be authoritarian and capricious.
- T has been given a name and surname but F strenuously resists registration. This is notwithstanding that a failure to do so is, in a variety of practical ways, likely to serve as an impediment to the promotion of T’s welfare as well as to have an adverse impact on F’s own legal status
And boy does researching The Cestui Cue Vie Act 1666 take you down some rabbit-holes. It crops up quite a lot in the ‘law only applies to me if I agree to it’ fallacy, and my favourite bit was
“When a ship BERTHS, it is given a CERTIFICATE at a DOCK, and the Government gives you a BIRTH CERTIFICATE from a DOC, so you’re just a ship owned by the Government”
That’s someone for whom rolls of tin-foil (9) is always in their Ocado basket.
Anyway, The Cestue Cue Vie Act 1666 does not assert that everyone is legally dead unless they prove every seven years that they are alive, of course not. It says that if a person is missing without trace for seven years they can be pronounced legally dead without their creditors or heirs having to legally prove that they are dead.
The Judge kindly, but sadly for me, avoids getting into legal analysis of whether the father was right, and just decides that there are benefits for a child being registered as a citizen and getting those rights, and rules that the Local Authority can do it under section 33 of the Children Act 1989 (in doing so, considering one of my favourite cases where the mother tried to name her daughter Cyanide https://suesspiciousminds.com/2016/04/15/preacher-and-cyanide/ )
The Judge also ruled that s33 was sufficient, and the inherent jurisdiction wouldn’t work here.
- It requires to be stated that such an order is inconsistent with my conclusion that Section 33 (3) CA 1989 is apt to address the requirement for registration. In London Borough of Redbridge v SNA  EWHC 2140 (Fam) I made it clear that the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court is not, as I termed it there, ‘a lawless void’ permitting judges to do all that which we consider to be right and helpful. Its power is only available through the gateway of Section 100 CA 1989. It is perhaps helpful to reiterate what I said in London Borough of Redbridge v SNA (supra):
- “33. The concept of the ‘inherent jurisdiction’ is by its nature illusive to definition. Certainly, it is ‘amorphous’ (see paragraph 14 above) and, to the extent that the High Court has repeatedly been able to utilise it to make provision for children and vulnerable adults not otherwise protected by statute, can, I suppose be described as ‘pervasive’. But it is not ‘ubiquitous’ in the sense that it’s reach is all- pervasive or unlimited. Precisely because it’s powers are not based either in statute or in the common law it requires to be used sparingly and in a way, that is faithful to its evolution. It is for this reason that any application by a Local Authority to invoke the inherent jurisdiction may not be made as of right but must surmount the hurdle of an application for leave pursuant to s100 (4) and meet the criteria there.”
For some reason this reminds me of an article I read in an accounting journal many years ago that compared double-entry bookkeeping to monks masturbating in church – equally batty. (But published in a peer-reviewed academic journal, which is more than I ever managed!)
I actually think that the judge was remarkably respectful to the rather left-field views held. It could have been easy to open with
“The Court is today concerned with an application by the Local Authority, resisted by the Father who has placed before it a confused knot of incomprehensible tripe….”
Say what you like about England – we do a special class of crackpot, dopn’t we?