Sark's parliament like the States of Guernsey and the States of Alderney is a parliament of considerable antiquity. The Chief Pleas initially comprised the Seigneur, the Seneschal as Presiding Officer and the 40 Tenement owners. It is known that it was constituted before 1579. It assembled in those days infrequently largely to hear the pleas of members.
In 1922 legislation was passed to provide for the addition of 12 Deputies elected by popular vote. The Deputies were elected from candidates who were not Tenants.
The constitution of Sark was further reformed by virtue of The Reform (Sark) Law 1951. The entire Law was repealed by the 2008 Law. The Reform (Sark) Law of 2008 provides that with effect from January 2009 the Tenants and Deputies would no longer have seats in Chief Pleas. They were replaced by 28 elected members known as Conseillers. The Seigneur and Seneschal have seats. The Seneschal is the ex officio President of Chief Pleas. He does not have the right to speak in debate or vote. The Seigneur has the right to speak but with no right to vote.
The parliamentary term is four years. 14 of the Conseillers will retire in 2010 (after 2 years) but may be candidates in the mid-term election. The candidates to be elected in December 2010 will serve for four years.
Chief Pleas legislates on civil law matters unfettered by the States of Deliberation.
The Chief Pleas of Sark, like the States of Alderney, from time to time agree to Bailiwick wide civil legislation. They do so, on a law by law basis. Examples can be found in the field of financial services regulation as it has been deemed appropriate to achieve Bailiwick-wide uniformity in order to avoid regulatory arbitrage between the 3 jurisdictions in the Bailiwick.
As is the case in Alderney it is the States of Deliberation which legislates for Sark on criminal law matters.