Crown Dependencies - Justice Committee Contents

Appendix 2

Summary of the constitutional position of the Crown Dependencies[114]
JerseyGuernsey Isle of Man
HistoryFollowing the loss of Normandy, the English Crown asserted authority over the Channel Islands. King John established the Bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey by Royal Charter. The relationship between the Bailiwicks and the UK has, since then, been based on practice, custom, convention, usage and Statute enacted in Westminster and extended by consent to the Islands. Ruled by the Vikings from around 800 AD. Ceded to the King of Scotland in 1266. Ownership passed between Scotland and England and sovereignty vested in the British Crown in 1765.
Autonomy and constitutional status Jersey and Guernsey are autonomous jurisdictions. A Lieutenant-Governor represents the Crown in each jurisdiction. The Crown also appoints a Bailiff in each jurisdiction who is both Speaker of the legislature (known as the States Assembly in Jersey and the States of Deliberation in Guernsey) and the senior judge; and the Law Officers (Attorney General and Solicitor General in Jersey, HM Procureur and HM Comptroller in Guernsey). The Isle of Man is an autonomous jurisdiction. The Lieutenant-Governor represents the Crown but, since the Constitution Act 1990, this role has been more formal than substantive.
Guernsey is a federal jurisdiction, including Alderney and Sark, which both have independent legislative, executive and judicial systems.
Formal relations between the Crown Dependencies and the UK are conducted through the Lieutenant-Governor and the Ministry of Justice.

The constitutional status of the Crown Dependencies was examined in the Kilbrandon Report of 1972. This confirmed the internal legislative, executive and judicial autonomy of the Crown Dependencies, with the UK's right of intervention reserved to actions to preserve "good government" in each jurisdiction. This term has never been precisely defined.

More recently, each Island has agreed with the UK a "framework for developing the international identity of [Island]", which addresses the external identity of each Crown Dependency.

The UK has constitutional responsibility for the defence and international relations of the Crown Dependencies for which the latter pay an annual sum. However, in certain circumstances, the Crown Dependencies may be authorised to represent their own interests internationally by a process of entrustment (through letters of entrustment from the UK Government).[115] It is the practice for the authorities of the Crown Dependencies to be consulted before an international agreement is reached which would apply to them. The Crown Dependencies have no representations in London, Brussels (EU), Geneva (WTO), Paris (OECD), or New York (United Nations).

The status of the "international personality" of the Crown Dependencies has increasingly become an issue since they have begun to take a significant international role as financial centres.

114   Sources: Sutton, A., (April 2008), The evolving legal status of the Crown Dependencies under UK, European and International Law, White & Case: Brussels; Sutton, A., (2005), Jersey's changing constitutional relationship with Europe, Jersey Law Review; R(on the application of Barclay and others) v Secretary of State for Justice, [2009] UKSC 9. Back

115   Foot, M., (2009) Final report of the independent Review of British offshore financial centres, para C.7. Available at Back

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