Pseudolaw: Keep it out of the Courthouse

By Jenna Chamberlain

In a recent decision in the case of AVI v MHVB, 2020 ABQB 489 [AVI], the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench rejected pseudolaw arguments made in court.

In this case, Justice Robert A. Graesser received a letter from a woman calling herself “Jacquie Pheonix”, but whose legal name is Jacqueline Robinson. Ms. Robinson claimed to act on behalf of a mother, referred to in the decision as “MHVB”. MHVB is involved in a family law dispute regarding the custody of her daughter.

This decision was written with two objectives in mind. First, to reject Ms. Robinson’s attempt to engage the court in another individuals’ affairs. Second, to examine and refute the pseudolaw concepts that Ms. Robinson was attempting to employ.

Pseudolaw is defined as “a collection of spurious legally incorrect ideas that superficially sound like law, and purport to be real law” (Para 1, AVI). There are conspiratorial, fringe, criminal and dissident minority groups which argue pseudolaw replaces or displaces conventional law. These groups use pseudolaw to gain an advantage, authority, and other benefits. These pseudolaw concepts have repeatedly been rejected by Canadian courts (Para 2, AVI).

In the past, there were two main pseudolaw concepts in Canada. First, there were the “Detaxers” who attempted to find loopholes and schemes to avoid paying income tax. Second, there were the “Freemen-on-the-Land”, who believed Canadian law only applied to them if they consented to the law. Both these pseudolaw concepts failed and were rejected in Canada.

Recently, the courts in Canada have encountered a new form of pseudolaw based on the Magna Carta, named the “Magna Carta Lawful Rebellion” (“MCLR”). These individuals swear allegiance to a nobleperson in the United Kingdom based on Article 61 of the Magna Carta. These individuals claim this allegiance changes their standing in law such that they are no longer subject to legislation, courts, police and governments.

Ms. Robinson relied on MCLR theories.

Justice Graesser reviewed the history of the Magna Carta and its current application in Canadian law. A modern version of the Magna Carta still exists in England. However, Article 61 was repealed shortly after the Magna Carta was signed in England in the year 1215. There is nothing similar to the original Article 61 in the current version. Additionally, the Magna Carta has no legal effect in Canada. Justice Graesser confirmed these MCLR theories are pseudolaw and have no legal standing in Canadian courts.

Ms. Robinson also attempted to rely on the “Three/Five Letters” process. This is a common pseudolegal scheme allegedly used to create binding outcomes. The process involves sending a series of documents to an individual. These documents set out demands with deadlines and purports that failure to meet those deadlines will result in a binding agreement. However, these agreements are not legally binding. A person is unable to unilaterally impose contractual obligations on another person. The Alberta courts have held that, if a person employs this process, the court may presume the person is engaged in vexatious, abusive argument, and does so for improper and ulterior purpose. Justice Grasser applied this presumption to Ms. Robinson and MHVB. This means they must prove their claims are not vexatious before they can continue with their matters.

Justice Graesser ordered that any documents created by Ms. Robinson have no legal effect or relevance, except as evidence of Ms. Robinson’s abusive litigation conduct. Further, Justice Graesser ordered that Ms. Robinson immediately cease purporting to represent MHVB, is prohibited from filing, preparing, witnessing or formalizing any documents in MHVB’s matter, shall not communicate with the courts in any way in relation to MHVB’s matter, and, if communicating with the court, shall use the name “Jacqueline Robinson”.

This decision is a warning about the implications of relying on MCLR or other pseudolegal theories. Courts consider these theories an obstruction of justice and making pseudolegal arguments in court could seriously prejudice an action. For example, reliance on pseudolegal theories is an indication that a person is not suitable to be a child’s guardian or have custody of and access to a child.

Do not fall victim to pseudolaw theories or people purporting to “represent” you in court. Only you or a lawyer can represent you in court. If you have a legal matter, the best plan is to talk to a lawyer about your options.


This post is meant to provide information only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Although every effort has been made to provide current and accurate information, changes to the law may cause the information in this post to be outdated.