The COURTS OF GUERNSEY are responsible for the administration of
justice in the Bailiwick of
The principal court is the ROYAL COURT and exercises both civil and criminal jurisdiction.
Additional courts, such as the Magistrate's Court, which deals with minor criminal matters, and the Court of Appeal, which hears appeals from the Royal Court, have been added to the Island's legal system over the years.
It is likely that the oldest law that the Royal Court is called upon
to provide judgement over is the
Clameur de haro a Norman form of
injunction, whereby the aggrieved party makes a plea for justice to
* 1 Lower Courts
* 1.1 Magistrates Court * 1.2 Contracts Court
* 2 Royal Court
* 2.1 The Full Court * 2.2 The Ordinary Court * 2.3 The Matrimonial Causes Division
* 3 Other Courts
* 4 Alternatives to Court
* 4.1 Tribunals * 4.2 Arbitration
* 5 Ancillary Notes
* 5.1 Language * 5.2 Court Building * 5.3 Advocates * 5.4 Law Officers * 5.5 Registry * 5.6 Jurat * 5.7 Earliest Courts * 5.8 Courts no longer in use
* 6 See also * 7 External * 8 References
CRIMINAL JURISDICTION OF THE MAGISTRATE\'S COURT Dealing with criminal law cases which are liable to attract a sentence of a maximum of two years and/or a fine of £20,000.
CIVIL JURISDICTION OF THE MAGISTRATE\'S COURT Dealing with civil matters where the sum in dispute does not exceed £10,000. Commonly known as “petty debt” cases.
FAMILY LAW MATTERS covers child maintenance payments , child contact and other issues which arise from time to time when a relationship breaks down.
INQUESTS are held at the magistrates court and are normally held at the request of the Law Officers of the Crown.
JUVENILE COURT The Juvenile Court is part of the Magistrate's Court and, if considered appropriate by Her Majesty's Procureur, will sit to consider some cases involving juveniles (under the age of 18) who are charged with criminal offences. Her Majesty's Procureur may also refer the case to the Child Youth and Community Tribunal. This court is not open to the public.
This court, convened with a Jurat Lieutenant Bailiff and four other Jurats witness conveyances of real property , real property agreements, legal charges on property (bonds), marriage contracts and deed polls prior to their registration on the public records, as well as liquor licence applications.
The primary court of record. It can sit in a number of configurations, depending on the type of case and the powers to be exercised.
THE FULL COURT
Historically known as the COUR EN CORPS comprising:
* a single Judge of law, this being either the Bailiff , the Deputy Bailiff, a Judge of the Royal Court or a Lieutenant Bailiff qualified in law; and, * not less than seven, but no more than twelve, Jurats acting as Judges of fact.
The Full Court has original CRIMINAL JURISDICTION in respect of indictable offences committed anywhere in the Bailiwick of Guernsey with a few exceptions and normally deals with serious criminal offences.
The Royal Court is also an appeal court for lower courts.
Dealing with CIVIL JURISDICTION cases that are beyond the scope of the Magistrates Court and certain other routine civil matters such as registering new legislation as well as some administrative appeals.
THE ORDINARY COURT
Comprising a single Judge of law, this being either the Bailiff, the
Deputy Bailiff, a Judge of the Royal Court or a Lieutenant Bailiff
qualified in law; and a minimum of two Jurats, although normally with
three. Sometimes the Judge will sit alone. The Ordinary Court will
deal with criminal matters originating in
THE MATRIMONIAL CAUSES DIVISION
Established under the Matrimonial Causes Law (Guernsey), 1939, constituted by a single Judge of Law, this being either the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff, a Judge of the Royal Court or a Lieutenant Bailiff qualified in law, sitting alone; or a single Judge of Law sitting with four Jurats.
Dealing with matters of divorce , judicial separation , annulments and dissolutions of marriages, and contentious judicial separations.
GUERNSEY COURT OF APPEAL
Constituted under the Court of Appeal (Guernsey) Law 1961, it
comprises the Bailiff of
A higher appeal lies from the
JUDICIAL COMMITTEE OF THE PRIVY COUNCIL
The higher appeal from the
In criminal matters further appeals may only be made with special
leave of the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
This is the final appeal for matters from the Magistrate's Court, the Royal Court, the Court of Alderney and the Court of the Seneschal.
COURT OF CHIEF PLEAS
An ancient Court, constituted in the same way as a Full Court. It is attended by the Full Court, the Law Officers of the Crown, Advocates and the Seigneurs and Bordiers owing suit to the Court.
Normally held just once a year at the start of the legal year when oaths are taken from HM Procureur, HM Receiver General and HM Comptroller. It is followed by a service at the Town Church then a traditional dinner.
Dealing with a mixture of issues, such as explosives licenses, water
courses, charitable funds, “Salle Publique Licences” and is an
opportunity to admit to the
EUROPEAN COURT OF HUMAN RIGHTS
Effective from 2006, the Human Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2000 incorporates into Bailiwick legislation the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.
People are able to pursue their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights in the Bailiwick's courts and tribunals, instead of having to go to the European Court in Strasbourg although that is still the final appeal route.
The Ecclesiastical Court's origins probably go back beyond surviving written records, existing in the 13th Century, and almost certainly for centuries before that.
Many of the old jurisdiction functions have fallen by the way, such as dealing with acts of heresy and idolatry. Today the court deals with just three matters:
* The proving of Wills and the issuing of Letters of Administration in deceased Estates; * The granting of marriage licences * The issuing of faculties
In this respect the Ecclesiastical Court is unique in the world.
Normally held each Friday and presided over by the Dean of Guernsey acting under a commission from the Bishop of Winchester . (prior to the time of Queen Elizabeth I , the Bishop of Coutances )
The Court used to be held in an upper room in the Town Church where its most notorious decision was the sentencing in 1556 of the Guernsey Martyrs for heresy. The Court relocated in 1822. It is currently held in the Saint Peter Port Constables offices.
Chief Pleas (French: Chefs Plaids; Sercquiais: Cheurs Pliaids) is the
The Court of
Alderney exercises unlimited original jurisdiction in
civil matters and limited jurisdiction in criminal matters. The Court
sits with a Chairman (the Judge of
Alderney ) and at least three of
the six Jurats . Appeals are made to the Royal Court of Guernsey,
which also exercises some original jurisdiction in criminal matters in
Alderney, and thence to the
Judicial Committee of the Privy Council
ALTERNATIVES TO COURT
The use of tribunals has increased over the years, with tribunals normally created by statute and is a less formal and potentially faster source of justice. These include:
* Chambre de Discipline. Under the
Arbitration in civil matters is recommended in
After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, Norman French became the official language used at court and by the nobles. Guernsey's Royal Court and officials employed standard French from the Medieval period to the mid 20th century.
In 1926 English was made an official language of the States of
The earliest reference to a court building dates from the 12th
century, when reference is made to a building in
St Peter Port in a
district known as La Plaiderie (literally translated as the place of
pleading) where courts were held in the King's barn, although it had
to be vacated at lunch time so a corn market could take place in the
afternoons. During the
English Civil War
It was 1799 before the current court buildings were built, with the first sitting in 1803. Expanded repeatedly over the years, with the latest addition completed in 2006.
Only Advocates of the Royal Court may have rights of audience to the
Royal Court and the
The qualification route is normally through obtaining a Bachelor of
Laws degree in England, then a qualification as a
Appointed by the Crown.
* Cour d'Appeaux was a court of appear from the Cour Ordinaire or
Ordinary Court, comprising more Jurats than in the Ordinary Court.
* Court of Judgements was a court of appeal above the Cour d'Appeaux
comprising at least seven Jurats. There could even be less Jurats at
this court than at the Cour d'Appeaux.
* Mobilaire Courts for matters relating to moveables and chattels.
On one Monday the cases heard would be from the Low Parishes (St
St Peter Port and the Vale) and on the next Monday, cases
from the High Parishes (all other Parishes).
* Plaids d'Heritage for determining all suits relative to
* Des Namps or Tuesday Courts dealing with seizures and distress.
* Saturday Courts for passing contracts, admiralty causes and
* Criminal Court of Correctional Police. The Bailiff and two Jurats
with a limit on the sentence.
* Superior Criminal Court. The Bailiff and at least seven Jurats for
more serious criminal cases.
* ^ "Sources of
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