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Bailiff (Channel Islands)

From Academic Kids

In the Channel Islands of Jersey and Guernsey the Bailiff is the first civil officer, serving as president of the legislature and the Royal Court. Each island has possessed its own bailiff since the post was divided in the 13th century. Since 2004, Guernsey's head of government is the Chief Minister. Jersey is also in the process of adopting a ministerial system under a Chief Minister.

He is appointed by the Crown, and generally holds office for life. He presides at the Royal Court, and takes the opinions of the Jurats; he also presides over the States, and represents the Crown in all civil matters.

Though he need not necessarily have had legal training, he is invariably selected from among those who have held some appointment at the Island's Bar.

In 1617 a Privy Council decision clarified the division of civil and military responsibilities between the bailiff and the governor. For the first time the Crown laid down the bailiff’s precedence over the governor in justice and civil affairs.

In 1771 it was laid down that no laws might be adopted without being passed by the States of Jersey. From this time on it was clear that the bailiff, as president of the States, was the chief power in Jersey, although the process of democratisation through the 19th and 20th centuries has shifted the focus of political influence to the elected members of the States. The introduction of a ministerial system of government under a chief minister is further removing the bailiff from direct decision-making.


See also: List of Bailiffs of Guernsey, List of Bailiffs of Jersey

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