The Law Officers: where Government and the law meet
We provide a range of legal services covering issues that would be dealt with by both central and local government in larger jurisdictions, primarily for:
- The Crown
- The States of Guernsey
- The States of Alderney
- The Chief Pleas of Sark
- Other public service clients such as the GFSC
The Law Officers of the Crown and their staff are committed to acting professionally, ethically, fairly and with integrity in all our business dealings and relationships. We are bound by our professional codes of conduct, the Prosecutors' Code of Guidance and the States Model Litigant Policy.
We respond to the needs of the Crown, the States of Guernsey and all others we serve by delivering independent, high quality and pragmatic legal advice, comprehensive legislative drafting, prosecution, litigation and commercial law services and robust representation with efficiency, integrity and professionalism, with the objective of protecting and enhancing the interests of the Bailiwick and its people. For the characteristics that underpin our mission statement, please refer to the Characteristics - Mission Statement document.
The legal services we provide
Law Officer Functions
Perform the professional and constitutional duties of the Law Officers of the Crown, including -
- Advice to States Departments/Committees and individual Members (eg, on the preparation of States amendments and requêtes and reports published in Billets d'État), ensuring compliance with the law, constitution and States' procedure and also with ECHR, relevant EU law and other international obligations,
- Non-voting member of States of Deliberation (the Law Officers attend the States of Deliberation's meetings and advise on constitutional, procedural and legal issues),
- Members of the States of Election under the Reform (Guernsey) Law, 1948 (the function of which is to elect Jurats of the Royal Court),
- Acting as amicus curiae in order to give independent and impartial advice on legal or constitutional issues that arise during the course of proceedings and performing customary law duties as partie publique, in civil proceedings where appropriate to represent the public interest or the interests of those who may not be able to represent themselves,
- Coronial functions for the Bailiwick*, eg, in connection with deaths, cremations, inquests and post mortems,
- Statutory functions, eg, in the fields of mental health, children in care and at risk, investigatory powers. These and other functions noted above require both Law Officers (and, when sick or absent, the Comptroller's 4 Senior Crown Advocate délégués) to provide 24 hour cover,
- Responsibility for the development of criminal law and the administration of criminal justice, all criminal proceedings being brought in the name of the Law Officers,
- Liaising with and advising the Lieutenant Governor and liaising with the Ministry of Justice, where requested and in relation to the progress of legislation and other constitutional matters,
- Acting as head of the Guernsey Bar (the Law Officers are required to attend certain ceremonial occasions in this capacity, to welcome new aspirants to the Bar before the Royal Court and, where appropriate, to liaise with the Batonnier and Royal Court),
- Representing Guernsey internationally as appropriate, and particularly, in relation to International Cooperation & Mutual Legal Assistance and the civil forfeiture of money, acting as the central authority in the Bailiwick for assistance,
- The work of HM Receiver-General, a post held by the Procureur*, whose functions include the collection within the Bailiwick of Crown revenues and the administration of Crown property (including Jethou), the foreshores (in those places where the Crown possesses the fiefs contiguous with the coast), the seabed (out to the limit of the territorial seas) and those immovable and moveable assets and interests that have escheated to the Crown or devolved as bona vacantia e.g. assets undistributed on the dissolution of a company.
Deliver an independent prosecution service on behalf of the Law Officers by the timely and thorough review of cases in accordance with the Prosecutors' Code of Guidance and presenting those cases that are taken to court in a fair, robust and professional manner, including -
- Prosecuting cases in the criminal courts of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark,
- Appearing for the prosecution on appeals before the Royal Court, the Guernsey Court of Appeal and, exceptionally, before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council,
- Obtaining restraint and confiscation orders relating to the proceeds of crime,
- Providing legal advice to law enforcement agencies during their investigations.
Provide advice and representation on behalf of the Law Officers in contentious civil, childcare, public and administrative law matters and proceedings brought by or against the States of Guernsey, the States of Alderney and the Chief Pleas of Sark and other public service clients including -
- Conducting general civil litigation before the civil courts of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark,
- Dealing with administrative appeals and other public law litigation in areas such as planning, housing, taxation, child care and matters arising out of the regulatory work of (for example) the Financial Services Commission,
- Appearing at statutory inquiries, most notably planning inquiries, and before statutory tribunals such as the Income Tax Tribunal, the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal and the Tax on Real Property Appeals Tribunal,
- Representing the States on appeals to the Guernsey Court of Appeal and references to judicial tribunals elsewhere, including, exceptionally, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council and the European Court of Human Rights.
Legislative Drafting and Advisory
Draft legislation* (primary, secondary and some tertiary) on behalf of the Law Officers for the Bailiwick and its Islands, including -
- Projets de Loi, which are primary legislation approved by the Island legislatures and subsequently submitted to the Privy Council for Royal Sanction,
- Ordinances, which are enacted by the Island legislatures,
- The more complex Statutory Instruments made by States' Departments and other public bodies,
- Orders in Council extending UK Acts of Parliament to the Islands with modifications (which are drafted in consultation with UK government lawyers),
- Rules of Court (in particular for the Royal Court of Guernsey and the Guernsey Court of Appeal),
- Manage and administer legislative content of the Guernsey Legal Resources Website*.
Civil Advisory and Legislation
Provide legal advice on behalf of the Law Officers concerning domestic, constitutional, international, public and employment law issues facing the States of Guernsey, the States of Alderney and the Chief Pleas of Sark and other public service clients, including -
- Matters relating to the constitutional relationship of the Islands of the Bailiwick and the UK and EU,
- Assisting and advising in the formulation of policy and the preparation of policy reports to be debated by the Island legislatures and the preparation of amendments to policy reports and of petitions for debate,
- Advising on the application and implementation of international law (for example, EU Directives and Regulations, ECHR jurisprudence and WTO arrangements) and on the administrative or legislative action needed to implement international obligations,
- Advising public officials and public authorities (such as the Financial Services Commission, the Guernsey Competition and Regulatory Authority, the Data Protection Commissioner, the Director of Civil Aviation, Planning Inspectors and the Registrar General of Electors) on the exercise of their functions,
- The provision of a comprehensive employment law service, including, where appropriate, representation before the Employment and Discrimination Tribunal,
- Providing litigation services and litigation support services, in particular for disputes involving constitutional or international law issues.
Deliver specialised projects, contract drafting, conveyancing services, property and general commercial law support on behalf of the Law Officers to the States of Guernsey, the States of Alderney and the Chief Pleas of Sark and other public service clients, including -
- Drafting project documentation and contracts and advising States Departments on project implementation and realisation,
- Assist the civil litigation team on commercial disputes, arbitration, dispute resolution and litigation matters,
- Undertake property matters and provide conveyancing services including the acquisition and disposal of property for the States of Guernsey,
- Provide corporate and commercial advice support to States Trading Companies and other corporate bodies including company secretarial support,
- Advise, through specialist designated lawyers, the Commerce and Employment Department, Finance Sector Development Unit and Financial Services Commission and other bodies on policy and legal developments for the finance and financial services sectors and to instruct the legislative drafters in the implementation of such developments,
- Advising on and drafting the Civil Service pension rules,
- The drafting and approval of other legal documents such as instruments of delegation and conveyancing documents.
Mutual Legal Assistance / International Cooperation and Asset Recovery
Acting as the Central Authority for the Bailiwick by processing all external mutual legal assistance requests made by foreign jurisdictions in respect of their criminal investigations and prosecutions, and also in respect of the civil forfeiture of money, by obtaining evidence, restraining assets and enforcing overseas confiscation orders as well as representing Guernsey on a number of relevant international bodies.
Provide services and support in terms of administration, finance (including independent HMRG accounts), facilities management, information technology, human resources and records management to St James Chambers in order to enable the Law Officers and their staff to perform their duties and meet their respective objectives.
* In the Bailiwick of Jersey the functions in question are performed by the holders of separately remunerated offices.