Bailiwick of Guernsey
The Channel Islands consist of two
Bailiwicks, Guernsey and its close neighbours and Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. The Bailiwick of
Guernsey consists of Guernsey, Alderney, Sark, Jethou, Lihou, Breqhou and Burhou.
Sark's was the last feudal state in Europe but following pressure from the European
Court of Human Rights, free elections were held for the first time on 10th December 2008 in which 28 Conseillers
were appointed to Chief Pleas. 412 voters made their mark with only two of those papers spoilt. This was an 87%
turnout from the 474 eligible to vote.
Prior to 2008, the island's constitution dated back some four hundred years to Queen
Elizabeth I and the island was split into 40 tenements. The Seigneur (the Queen's representative) presides over the
island's government called Chief Pleas. This body used to comprise the Seigneur, Seneschal, twelve peoples'
deputies and tenants who own the ancient tenements of the island (now replaced by peoples' elected Conseillers) .
Chief Pleas meets at least four times and besides governing the island, also passes new laws. The Guernsey Royal
Court can veto any decisions if they are considered to be unreasonable
The Seneschal's Court is the island's only court of justice and deals with criminal and civil
cases. The Seneschal is appointed by the Seigneur and is both judge and jury in any trials he hears. The Constable
and the Vingtenier are the island's police force and hold office for a year at a time. Law enforcement is also
supported by the Guernsey force when needed. The island's jail is probably the smallest in Europe and holds just
two people but is rarely used.
The Royal Court in Guernsey deals with Appeals and thereafter cases can be referred to the
Channel Islands' Court of Appeal. The final appeal is to the Privy Council Judicial Committee.
Sark Tourism site
Sark Government site which gives general information, details on the history
and constitution of the island plus administration information and reports of Chief Pleas.
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