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If I were to buy a plot of land here in Britain and managed to bring in enough citizens to start our micronation, and we then built enough buildings, and had a supply of food and water, would we able to establish our own laws seperate from those of British laws?

At what point is the theoretical micronation able to establish its own laws?

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    In theory: whenever you want. This seems to be a purely hypothetical quesiton. – user1530 Aug 9 '17 at 16:40
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    Basic research would include a viewing of "Passport to Pimlico" – DJohnM Aug 9 '17 at 17:12
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    You don't need statehood to have your own laws. Households, clubs, schools, workplaces, etc. all have their own rule systems. Even SE has its own, relatively-vaguely-defined rules and justice system, though we're more focused on reform than punishment. – Nat Aug 10 '17 at 2:23
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    @immibis: I'd put it slightly stronger: if you can enforce those laws, you're a nation. – MSalters Aug 10 '17 at 10:17
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    No time to write an answer, but you seem to be confusing (private) property and (public) sovereignty. – henning -- reinstate Monica Aug 10 '17 at 12:30
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The question is not "When can you enforce your laws on your land?", the question is "When can you prevent the United Kingdom from enforcing their laws on your land?". That's the case if any of these is true:

  • You have an army strong enough to keep the UK government forces out of your country (being an armed insurgency would likely not yet give you international recognition but would make you capable of enforcing your laws nevertheless)
  • You have an agreement with the UK which says that they grant you independence (like they offered to Scotland if they hadn't voted to remain)
  • You have found international allies which formally recognize your nation and are able and willing to defend it against claims from the UK. Good luck convincing some notable international powers that siding with you is more beneficial to them than siding with the UK.
  • If you would not be against the UK you could also try to get the majority of the UN member-states to recognize you and make a resolution defending your sovereignty, but the UK is a veto-power in the UN security council, so in this case it's the same as point 2.
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    @Charlie exactly. Private land ownership doesn't free you from the sovereignty of the state it belongs to. – Philipp Aug 9 '17 at 16:42
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    @Philipp, that's particularly true in England, where you don't own the land, the Crown does. – Mark Aug 9 '17 at 21:39
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    @Mark it is not more or less true in England. it is the same everywhere. if you can prevent the UK from enforcing its laws on a parcel of land, then the UK does not own that land. – emory Aug 10 '17 at 5:23
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    @MSalters You own your own land under Dutch law. If you would reject Dutch laws by declaring yourself to be an independent micronation, you would also lose the protection of property rights the Dutch law provides and thus lose the legal claim to your land. But that's all just legal fiction anyway. In practice it doesn't matter how your state defines private land ownership. Fact is, no state in the world will recognize someone forming a micronation within it. – Philipp Aug 10 '17 at 10:32
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    @MSalters The fact that land ownership remained after moving the border is only so because the country the land moved into allowed it to be that way. – Matt Aug 10 '17 at 16:05
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The misconception in your question is meaning of "buy a plot of land". In the strictest sense, you can't.

The Crown retains the ultimate ownership (Allodial Title) of all land in England and Wales. When we talk about buying land that's really a shorthand for buying a Freehold, which is a more abstract entity - it gives you a set of rights over a parcel of land, but not ownership of the land itself. The rights granted don't include the ability to abrogate any laws that apply to the land. In fact, the state remains the right to purchase the freehold back from you through Compulsory Purchase.

There is historical precedent for states buying and selling real land, and the right to make laws over that real land, such as the Louisiana Purchase. If you were able to negotiate the purchase of the real land from the United Kingdom them yes at that point you would be able to pass laws as you wanted. Even then however, if you passed laws that upset the UK enough it could attempt to bring diplomatic, economic or military pressure against you to make you desist - despite you being on a stronger legal footing.

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  • Is there any historical precedent of a state selling land to an entity that was not previously already a state? In the case of the Louisiana purchase (and the Alaska purchase, etc.,) the purchaser was the United States, which was already a country. There is, however, precedent for part of a nation telling the government, "Hi. We have guns. We're not part of your country anymore. kthxbye." Sometimes that works out, but sometimes it doesn't. – reirab Aug 10 '17 at 20:46
  • @reirab: Nevada ostensibly had a process for obtaining allodial title as recently as 2005, but it was arguably just a way of paying your property taxes in advance, rather than "true" allodial title. – Kevin Oct 23 '18 at 18:22
  • @Kevin Interesting! But, yeah, that appears to be more a prepaid property tax program than anything else. Certainly, the United States government would not have taken the position that such titles entitled the bearer to create a sovereign nation outside of U.S. jurisdiction and it appears that all Nevada state and local laws aside from those related to property taxes still applied normally to the property. – reirab Oct 23 '18 at 19:56
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It does not work that way.

Basically, if you control the territory you can make the laws (the state is the monopoly of violence, by one definition).

If you are a few people but nobody challenges your claim, you are a nation. It being "micro" or not is not really an issue.

Of course, the question with your plan is the UK government is, to put it lightly, not likely to recognize your claim. So, the only way for your state to become a reality is to get enough power to wrestle control again from the UK. IOW, it is not going to happen.

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    And BTW, you are confusing the terms "nation" (which means a common, shared culture and is often rather vague) and "state/contry" (which is what you are asking about). – SJuan76 Aug 9 '17 at 16:01
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    Easy to check. Break the UK law in an obvious way (I suggest growing marihuana, and writting a panel advertising it at the entrance of your "state") and see if the UK police enters to arrest you. If they do enter and arrest you, you are not in a different state. – SJuan76 Aug 9 '17 at 16:03
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    @Charlie Simply owning land does not give you the authority to make laws on it. – Philipp Aug 9 '17 at 16:15
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    @Charlie: The ultimate authority to make and enforce laws is generally known as sovereignty. It's quite independent from ownership. – MSalters Aug 10 '17 at 15:25
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    @SJuan76 Well, whether that means you're a country or not kind of depends on how you react to said police. If you manage to successfully force them to leave without arresting you, you might have a better claim at being a country. Good luck with that, though. – reirab Aug 10 '17 at 20:49
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Your theoretical micronation can setup laws as soon as it is formed. If you are in fact a sovereign state, then you get to make the rules. That includes setting forth a constitution for guiding how rules will be created, updated, and enforced. Once you have your constitution, get busy writing all the laws you need.

As you are likely aware, laws may be an important issue, but your country has a far more pressing matter at hand: Her Majesty's Army.

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    "As soon as it is formed" is quite vague, though. When is the micronation officially formed? – Charlie Aug 9 '17 at 15:59
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    In actual fact, you would be treated like a cult and ought to worry about the police, not the army. – Relaxed Aug 9 '17 at 19:22
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    "When is the micronation officially formed?" – According to whom? To the citizens of you micronation, it is formed when they say so. To the government of the state your territory lies in? Probably never. A state (the same applies to a country) is a state (country) if other states (countries) recognize it as such. The question is difficult: the People's Republic considers Taiwan a rogue territory that is a part of their country. The Democratic Republic considers mainland China as a rogue territory that is a part of their country. Most countries do not officially recognize Taiwan as a country – Jörg W Mittag Aug 9 '17 at 20:42
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    but nevertheless treat it exactly like one. So, is Taiwan a country or not? Is Palestine? Basque? What do you think a Palestinian would answer? What would an Israeli answer? – Jörg W Mittag Aug 9 '17 at 20:43
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    I vaguely remember reading that HM Army (unlike the Navy and Air Force) is not Royal for, um, historical reasons. – Anton Sherwood Aug 9 '17 at 20:56

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