Channel Islands

Located off the English Channel, the Channel Islands are an archipelago comprised of two Crown dependencies - the Bailiwick of Jersey, the largest of the islands; and the Bailiwick of Guernsey. Although the islands don’t belong to the UK, the country does assume responsibility for their defense and international relations. The islands have a total population of about 166,000 inhabitants.

Each of the two bailiwicks have been administered independently since the 13th century, each with its own representative bodies and elections. The earliest known inhabitants to the islands dates back to about 250,000 years ago, when they were still attached to continental Europe.

The island’s liberation in 1945 led to increases in tourism and immigrant populations. Offshore income during the 1960s also helped the legislature and social programs grow within the islands. Declines in profitability in agriculture and tourism has been a challenge for the government since the 1990s.

Tourism is the leading industry on the smaller islands. Since the 1960s, the islands of Jersey and Guernsey have been major offshore financial hubs, which also greatly contributes to the island’s economy. Exports of crafted goods and farmed produce are also contributors to the economy of the islands. A high cost of living, and dependence on finance, has led to large disparities between rich and poor populations living there.

Legal System in the Channel Islands

Guernsey and Jersey each have separate legal systems independent of the UK and the European Union.  On both islands, law is based on common law and concepts from French-Norman and English Law. Jersey’s legal market is larger than that of Guernsey, as Jersey has a larger financial services market.

In Guernsey, the Royal Court is the main court, and it has civil and criminal jurisdiction.  There are additional courts that handles minor criminal matters, such as the Magistrate’s Court.  Additionally, the Court of Appeal, which hears appeals from the Royal Court, has been added to Guernsey’s legal system.  A similar system and structure exists in Jersey, with the addition of some smaller tribunals, such as the Youth Court and the Petty Debts Court.

Visitors to the National Law Review can find information related to the Channel Islands, the country of Normandy, as well as British rule of the islands. Trust enforcement, data security, bitcoin and cryptocurrency transactions, offshore trusts, and financial-sector news, are among the topics which are covered about the Channel Islands, by the National Law Review.  


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