The Royal Court is the principal court in the Island.
Royal Court Building,
The Royal Court hears both civil and criminal cases.
Judges of the Royal Court
Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff and Master
There are three full time judges of the Royal Court: the Bailiff, the Deputy Bailiff and the Master.
The Bailiff is the Chief Justice (principal judge or president) of the Royal Court and is assisted by the Deputy Bailiff. The Bailiff and Deputy Bailiff are the trial judges and together with two Jurats sit as the Inferior Number of the Royal Court to try civil cases and criminal matters that are not tried before a jury.
The Master deals with interlocutory matters in civil cases only. The volume of work in the Royal Court is such that part time Commissioners are appointed to act as judges in the Royal Court for both civil and criminal trials.
Commissioners are legally qualified persons appointed by the Bailiff to sit as judges of the Royal Court under the provisions of the Royal Court (Jersey) Law 1948.
No appointment of a Commissioner can be made unless the person:
(a) holds or has held judicial office in the Commonwealth
(b) has been at least 10 years in practice
(i) at the Jersey Bar
(ii) as a Solicitor (Ecrivain) of the Royal Court in Jersey, whether as a Law Officer of the Crown or otherwise
(c) has been at least 10 years in practice at the Bar in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey or the Isle of Man
The Bailiff will often appoint a Commissioner to preside over the Royal Court either for a specific case or for a particular period. Such judges are often appointed to deal with particularly long cases or where it is otherwise inappropriate for the Bailiff or Deputy Bailiff to sit.
The Judicial Greffier
The Judicial Greffier is the clerk to the Royal Court. Historically, the Judicial Greffier dealt with interlocutory applications in civil cases. Those duties are now undertaken by the Master (unless the Master is unavailable). Non-contentious applications before the Royal Court, such as the registration of deeds polls and registration of doctors, are dealt with by the Judicial Greffier.
Role of the Judges
The roles of the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff and Commissioners, as regards proceedings in the Royal Court, are identical; they are the sole judges of law and procedure and have the power to award costs.
The Royal Court sits in the following divisions:
The Héritage Division determines all proceedings relating to immovable (real) property in Jersey – such as disputes as to the ownership of land or the division of land between heirs where the owner of land died intestate (without making a will).
The Family Division deals with suits for divorce, judicial separation, nullity of marriage and financial matters pursuant to divorce proceedings. The Family Division also deals with applications regarding access to and maintenance for children, applications for adoption; declarations under the Legitimacy (Jersey) Law 1973; and public law proceedings with regard to the care and protection of children pursuant to the Children (Jersey) Law 2002.
The Probate Division has jurisdiction in relation to all probate and administration matters, and hears and determine all questions relating to a testamentary cause or matter.
The Samedi Division deals with all matters not within the jurisdiction of the Héritage Division, the Family Division or the Probate Division. The Samedi Division deals with both civil and criminal matters. The Samedi Court is so called because it used to sit on a Saturday. Nowadays the Samedi Division sits on a Friday.
For further reading, an account of the process in the Samedi Court may be found in an Article in the Jersey Law Review published in 2004. http://www.jerseylaw.je/Publications/jerseylawreview/feb04/JLR0402_Whelan.aspx (Opens in a new window)
Samedi Court – public business
The Samedi Court sits in open court at 10.00 a.m. to deal with public business including the reading of indictments in criminal cases.
Samedi Court – private business
The Samedi Court sits in open court at 2.30 p.m. to deal with private business such as the passing of contracts in connection with sales and transactions involving immovable property, the first presentation of representations to the court in civil matters and dealing with civil cases listed on the Royal Court Table (a list of all civil cases being called in Court on a particular Friday afternoon).