The Royal Court has always been the superior court in the Bailiwick. Alderney has had its own Court since at least the 13th century when Jurats of the Court of Alderney sat on their own when dealing with civil cases and some criminal cases.
By the 14th Century it is known that the Alderney Jurats were supplemented by Jurats of Guernsey's Royal Court in cases involving serious violence.
In the 1800's the Court of Alderney comprised a President, called the Judge, two Crown Officers as in Guernsey, a Greffier and a Prevot (Sheriff). The jurisdiction of the Court of Alderney in the mid 1800s in matters of a criminal nature, was confined to carrying out a preliminary investigation of the facts and if appropriate referring the case to the Royal Court in Guernsey for trial and upon a conviction, for sentence.
Nowadays the Court of Alderney has full unlimited jurisdiction in civil cases with appeal from the Court of Alderney to the Royal Court of Guernsey, from there to the Guernsey Court of Appeal and ultimately to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
The Court of Alderney has limited criminal jurisdiction. Since 2010, it has been able to impost a maximum sentence of 12 months imprisonment and a fine of up to £10,000 for a single offence and twice that sum in aggregate for multiple offences.
All cases which may merit a sentence in excess of the Court of Alderney's sentencing limit are sent for trial to the Royal Court sitting as an Ordinary Court, that is to say constituted by a Judge plus a minimum of 2 Jurats.
Her Majesty's Procureur may determine that an Alderney criminal case should be dealt with by trial on Indictment in the Royal Court. He will do so where a case on conviction may merit a sentence of one year or more. Trials on Indictment are dealt with by the Royal Court sitting as a Full Court, that is to say constituted by a Judge plus a minimum of 7 Jurats.
The constitution of the Court of Alderney is seven Jurats recommended for appointment by the authorities in Alderney to the Lord Chancellor. The Chairman of the Court who is a Jurat, and the other Jurats, are appointed by the by the Lieutenant-Governor.
When the Chairman and Jurats of the Court may not be able to deal with a matter, perhaps because of personal interest, there is a power for the Chairman of the Court to apply to the Bailiff to appoint a person to sit alone to exercise the powers of the Court.
The Court of Alderney (Appointment of Juge Délégué) Ordinance, 2007 which came into force on 1st June 2007makes provision for the appointment of a Juge Délégué in respect of a matter to be heard by the Court if it appears to the Chairman of the Court that by reason of
(a) The complexity of the issues or
(b) The likely length of proceedings
the Court will not be able to deal with the matter expeditiously and in accordance with the interests of justice. In such circumstances the Chairman of the Court applies to the Bailiff to appoint a person to exercise the power of the Court in relation to that matter. That judge will have all the powers of the Court in relation to the matter.