April 20, 2012

Royal Court of Guernsey coup for our family lawyer

By David McHardy, Essex office
Did you know that the Channel Island of Guernsey has a separate jurisdiction to England, Wales and Jersey, which has evolved from Norman French law? Guernsey, a British Crown dependency but not part of the UK or EU, even has its own version of the Human Rights Act. Not a lot of people know that…

I have just had the honour of being sworn in for a third tenure as Lieutenant Bailiff in the Royal Court of Guernsey. The role of the Bailiff is an ancient one, rooted in the 13th Century, with the present incumbent being the 88th appointment in 742 years. Since the 1600s the Bailiff has governed the Bailiwick of Guernsey – the area over which he has jurisdiction – and has devolved some aspects of the law to just a handful of Lieutenant Bailiffs.

Drawing on my extensive experience in the area of family law and mediation in the South of England, the position perfectly complements my role heading up Jones Myers’ South East office at Woodford Green, Essex. The role as Lieutenant Bailiff is chiefly to offer independent, impartial assistance in family law cases on the island.

As a non-habitant, I can be called upon at any time to offer unbiased advice where there may be a conflict of interest with a Guernsey resident; this has happened on several occasions. One of my cases was appealed to the Court of Appeal (Guernsey) and then on to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, one of the highest courts in the land – I was upheld all the way through.

There’s no doubt that it’s a fascinating place in which to practise law, with its procedures continually evolving just as they do in England and Wales. In fact, the Bailiff has confirmed he would like to utilise my skills to assist with the development of mediation services on the island – something which I will be enormously proud to be a part of.

The team at Jones Myers has extraordinary experience in mediation and I myself have acted as mediator for many clients across the South of England, so this will be a fantastic opportunity to bring the associated benefits to many more people.

We’ll be examining in greater detail the different jurisdictions of the UK in forthcoming blog posts, so do visit these pages every week to see what’s new.

Image of David McHardy being sworn in, courtesy of photographer Brian Green