Constitution of Jersey

7.1.21.L2 Updated on:27 October 2021

Sovereignty

Jersey is a Crown Dependency and not part of the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom is made up of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Geographically, Jersey is both part of the British Isles and of the British Islands.

Jersey has its own laws, judiciary and executives. When England was conquered by the Normans in 1066, the Channel Islands became subject to whoever was on the English throne since they had already been annexed by Normandy in the tenth and eleventh century. When France got Normandy back in 1204, the Channels Islands stayed under the jurisdiction of the English crown.

For more information on the origins of self government see Jersey’s History.

The Constitution

The Lieutenant-Governor is appointed by the Crown and is the Queen’s representative. They have traditionally been a senior member of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. They are also Commander-in-Chief of Jersey, and the Commander of the Armed Forces of the Crown in Jersey. Communication between Her Majesty’s Government through the Ministry of Justice and Jersey is conducted through the Lieutenant-Governor.

The Bailiff is President of both the States and of the Royal Court. The Deputy Bailiff assists him and is able to perform the same functions as the Bailiff when authorised so to do. They are both appointed by the Crown.

Also appointed by the Crown are the Dean of Jersey, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General.

The Legislature

The States is made up of the Bailiff, the Lieutenant Governor, the Connétables of the twelve parishes, Deputies, the Dean of Jersey, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General. Although they all have the right to speak in the Assembly, only the forty-nine elected members have the right to vote.

The Connétables are elected for a term by their Parish and serve in the States by virtue of the office they hold.

The Deputies have a Parish mandate.

Laws passed by the States require the sanction of Her Majesty in Council except in specific instances.

The Council of Ministers is made up of a Chief Minister and other Ministers chosen by all States Members. Each Minister is legally and politically accountable for their area of government.

The official language of the Courts

Meetings and debates in the States are conducted in English. Laws are now written in English although French remains the official written language of the Courts.

The Royal Court

Criminal and civil matters are both dealt with by the Royal Court which consists of the Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff and Jurats. There are twelve Jurats elected by an Electoral College.
See: Members of the Royal Court

The Magistrates Court

Minor criminal matters are dealt with by a Magistrate in the Magistrate’s Court. In most cases it is the Centenier who brings the case to the Magistrate’s Court, however in some circumstances a Prosecutor will bring the case instead. This happens when the case is likely to go on to the Royal Court or where more complex argument of law is required. This enables the Attorney General to be represented.

Petty Debts are also dealt with in the Magistrate’s Court. See Magistrate’s Court and Petty Debts Court

Parishes

Jersey is divided into twelve Parishes, each having its own municipality. Each parish has its Connétable, Centeniers, Vingteniers and other officers elected for a term. The Governing body in each parish is known as the Assembly of Principals, which are the ratepayers.

Parish Hall Enquiries

A Parish Hall Enquiry refers to the process of preliminary investigation conducted by a Centenier to decide whether there is enough evidence to justify a prosecution and whether the matter should be presented before the court. It deals with both youth offending and minor offences committed by adults. In Jersey, the system dates back 800 years and is a customary, informal alternative to formal court processing. See: Parish Hall Enquiries