The Bailiff is Guernsey's leading citizen and representative in non-political matters, with functions embracing judicial and civic duties, and a more limited but important parliamentary role.
The Bailiff is, ex officio, a Judge of the Court of Appeal and that Court's President. He also sits in the Royal Court, either as a single Judge or presiding over such sittings with the Jurats. The Bailiff's parliamentary role involves acting as Presiding Officer of the States of Deliberation, serving as a moderator of debate in the assembly, ruling on questions of procedure and maintaining order. As civic head of the community, the Bailiff represents Guernsey in and outside the Island on occasions of a non-political nature and will, on behalf of the people of Guernsey, greet and welcome members of the Royal Family and dignitaries visiting the Island. He has numerous and varied other civic duties and, by convention, will also accept appointment as patron of a number of local charities.
For a long period, Bailiffs were usually appointed from the bench of Jurats, and since 1895 have been qualified lawyers, often having first served as H.M. Procureur, and as Deputy Bailiff.
Today the Bailiff is appointed by the sovereign by letters patent under the Great Seal, holding office during Her Majesty's pleasure. Appointments are made following a recommendation by the retiring Bailiff. The Bailiff will have consulted the Jurats and other judges, the Chief Minister and Acting Presiding Officers of the States of Deliberation, and may consult some senior members of the legal profession, as to the relative merits of applicants. He also confers with the Lieutenant-Governor, before transmitting a recommendation to the latter for conveyance to the Ministry of Justice, which will then make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen.
The letters patent throughout the twentieth century provided for a retirement age of seventy, but in 1999 this was reduced to sixty-five years. As Crown appointees, the Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff cannot be removed from office for political reasons, nor can their judicial functions be interfered with politically.
The creation of the office of Deputy Bailiff took place in 1969. As for the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff is appointed by the sovereign by letters patent under the Great Seal, holding office during Her Majesty's pleasure. There is an open application process for the position of Deputy Bailiff and, following interviews, an appointment is made following a recommendation from the Bailiff. Again, this recommendation is conveyed to the Ministry of Justice, which will then make a recommendation to Her Majesty the Queen.
The Deputy Bailiff continues the Court's judicial work and discharges the Bailiff's parliamentary duties when the island is without a Bailiff, between appointments, though a Juge Délégué will preside over the sitting when a new Bailiff is robed and sworn into office. As for the Bailiff, the retirement age of seventy was reduced to sixty-five in 1999.
As a Law Officer of the Crown, Her Majesty's Procureur, also known as Her Majesty's Receiver General, holds office through a Royal Warrant and is subject to retirement at sixty-five years of age.
As the head of the Bar, the primary role of H.M. Procureur is to provide legal advice to the States and their Departments and Committees, as well as the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. He or she also advises H.M. Greffier, H.M Sheriff and H.M Sergeant.
Her Majesty's Comptroller, also known as Her Majesty's Solicitor General, also is a Law Officer of the Crown and similar to H.M. Procureur holds office through a Royal Warrant and is subject to retirement at sixty-five years of age. The position is junior to that of H.M Procureur, but is not accountable to him. His role is similar to that of H.M Procureur in advising on legal and constitutional issues.
For information about Her Majesty's Greffier, please click here.
For information about Her Majesty's Sheriff, please click here.
For information about Her Majesty's Sergeant, please click here.