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Jersey's Constitution

Royal Square Jersey
Royal Square, St Helier

Bailiwick of Jersey

The Channel Islands consist of two Bailiwicks, Jersey and Guernsey which includes its close neighbours of Alderney, Sark, Jethou, Lihou, Breqhou and Burhou.

King John established the Royal Court, appointed a chief officer or Bailiff ("official in a court of law") assisted by 12 jurats (from the Latin jurare, to swear as on an oath) Gradually the office of Bailiff took over the duties of the Seneschal of Normandy and came to represent the civil authority under his own bailiwick. In 1455 during the War of the Roses, the administration was split into two bailiwicks, Jersey and Guernsey. Sark was uninhabited and Alderney was held under a private lease.

Gradually the Bailiff came to take advice from his citizens and by the mid 18th century, the States of Deliberation had been formed, separate from the Royal Court but the Bailiff still heading up both. To this day, the role of Bailiff remains the same. In the mid 19th century, the first peoples deputies were elected .

The composition of the States is now as follows:

Bailiff Sir Philip Bailhache (President) appointed by the Crown  

Queen's Representative Air Chief Marshall Sir John Cheshire KCB., His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor

12 Senators elected by parish vote

29 People’s deputies elected by parish vote  

12 parish constables

For details of current States members, click here

Other Government Officials

Mr Michael Cameron St. John Birt
Deputy Bailiff

The Very Reverend John N. Seaford, B.A, Dip.Theol.,
The Dean of Jersey

Mr William James Bailhache, Q.C., 
H.M. Attorney General

Miss Stéphanie Claire Nicolle, Q.C.,
H.M. Solicitor General

Mr Geoffrey Henry Charles Coppock,
Greffier of the States

Miss Catherine Mary Newcombe,
Deputy Greffier of the States

Mr Peter Alexander Noël de Gruchy,
Deputy Viscount

The States of Jersey is the government of  the Bailiwick of Jersey and handles all matters except diplomatic and defence aspects.

The UK Government, often these days as a result of an EC directive, will recommend new laws or amendments. The States are not obliged to accept such recommendations but often do subject to amendments to satisfy local requirements.. Many local laws however are still based on ancient Norman custom law and these include bankruptcy and inheritance.

All local legislative changes must be approved by the Privy Council for Royal Assent before they become enacted locally.  

The island has twelve parishes and ten of these are came into being as part of the community area linked to the church with names linked to Saints. The two which do not, are Trinity and Grouville. 

Link here for more information on Jersey's parishes.

Click here for details of States Departments.

In addition to the local parish council, the Douzaine, the office of parish Constable (or “Connetable”) still exists in both Jersey and Guernsey and in Jersey they retain some law enforcement duties. Each official is appointed by the Douzaine for a two year period of office. In Jersey they still have a seat in the States of Deliberation.  The name Douzenir originates from the Latin doziner meaning a man elected by and to represent 12 free families.

Constitutional Review 2001 


clothier.jpg (13972 bytes) 

(Adobe Acrobat PDF format)

A Government Review body, The Clothier Review panel reported in January 2001 and recommends separating the Bailiff's current joint role of head of judiciary and President of the States. It makes almost 50 recommendations including a cabinet style government of 7 ministers headed by a Chief Minister & reducing the number of Deputies. Reform is expected to take place within one year. For the full report, link to the States of Jersey site.

A similar review  body in Guernsey chaired by Advocate Peter Harwood recently presented their report to the States of Guernsey.  A review of the number of the number of elected members shows Jersey second highest after Guernsey.  A sample from that table: 

  Population  Representatives Ratio 1 per:
Guernsey 56,681 57 1,029
Jersey 87,500 53 1,650
Isle of Man 65,000 35 1,857
Monaco 32,035 18 1,779
Cayman Islands 33,600 15 2,240
Bermuda 58,460 40 1,461
Bahamas 284,000 40 7,100
New Zealand 3,781,500 120 31,512
United Kingdom 58,833,000 659 89,276


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