Advocates of the Royal Court
The Royal Court admits lawyers, known as Advocates of the Royal Court, to practice the laws of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark in the Bailiwick.
It is known that there have been a body of lawyers practising with the authority of the Royal Court since 1323. An Ordinance of 1777 limited the number of Advocates to 6 and that may have been declaratory of a limitation in force for many years. The limitation remained in force until the end of the 19th century. Thereafter there was no limit. As recently as 1970 there were only eleven Advocates. Furthermore in 1970 the number of qualified lawyers in employment of firms of Advocates other than those in pupillage with a view to qualifying as Advocates was few.
The qualifications for admission are that an Advocate must have been admitted to be a member of the Bar in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland or have been admitted as a Solicitor in one of those jurisdictions. In addition an aspirant must also have obtained the Certificat d'Etudes Juridiques Francaises et Normandes at Caen University and have passed the Guernsey Bar Exams set by the Royal Court. An aspirant holding a Licence or Maîtrise en Droit of any French University is a substitute qualification for the Certificat qualification. An aspirant must have been born in the Bailiwick of Guernsey or resided there for 2 years (see The Bar Ordinance 1932 and 1949 as amended).
Advocates practice as sole practitioners or in partnership and carry on work as barristers and solicitors as fused practices.
Members of the Guernsey Bar have met formally as a Bar since 1904.
The Guernsey Bar (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2007 provided for the creation of 'the Guernsey Bar' as a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal. It can sue and be sued in its name. It can exercise all the powers of a natural person. The legislation set out the objects of the Guernsey Bar and provided for a power to make Regulations governing a range of specified mattes and by special resolution passed at a general meeting, the Guernsey Bar may create Rules governing the conduct and management of its affairs.
The officers of the Guernsey Bar are the Batonnier, the Deputy Batonnier, the Secretary and the Treasurer. A Bar Council elected by the Members of the Guernsey Bar has day to day executive responsibilities.
The 2007 Law provides that Her Majesty's Greffier shall establish and maintain a Register of Advocates containing the information specified in the Law.
It is a criminal offence for a person falsely or recklessly to claim to be or to use any name, title or other description which tends to imply or mislead the public that he is authorised or qualified to practice as an Advocate. Any person who is not an Advocate, a consultant to an Advocate or firm of Advocates or employed or supervised by an Advocate in the course of his employment and who gives advice to another person on the law of the Bailiwick or one of its jurisdictions or draws up a contract under the law of one of the jurisdictions of the Bailiwick for another person is guilty of an offence. A person guilty of an offence is liable on conviction for a term of imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or a fine or both or a conviction on indictment to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or a fine or both.
The 2007 Law also introduced a new system of Discipline of Advocates