Guernsey's Bailiff's office may be reviewed

Guernsey's Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rowland
Image caption Guernsey's Bailiff Sir Geoffrey Rowland currently fulfils two roles

The role of Guernsey's Bailiff could be reviewed in the wake of a report looking at the dual responsibilities of the office in Jersey.

The report suggested splitting the current role, as both head of the legal system and president of the States.

Political expert Dr Adrian Lee said the dual role was unique to the islands.

He said they were the only democratic jurisdictions in the world where the person judging a case had been involved in making the law.

The Carswell Committee, which authored the report, suggested Jersey's Bailiff should step down as president of the States of Jersey and be replaced by an elected speaker.

Lord Carswell said: "There are various international constitutional documents, which rather frown on the idea of judges having anything to do with the legislator."

He said there was also a practical reason, as in recent years the Jersey Bailiff had had to spend increasing amounts of time on States work.

Dr Lee, a former professor of politics at Plymouth University, said: "The Carswell Committee also made the point that as the two islands increasingly develop their international personalities, as they're called, it's important that their legal systems and political systems are clear to the outside world.

"At the moment there is some lack of clarity over who is speaking on behalf of, who's representing the island - is it the chief minister, the Lieutenant Governor, the Bailiff or is it all three?"

A spokesperson for Guernsey's Policy Council said it would watch the developments in Jersey with interest.

Guernsey States Assembly and Constitution Committee said it intended to discuss the report at a meeting next week.

The dual role of both bailiffs came under the spotlight after Sark decided to spilt the role of seneschal, who was both chief judge and president of Chief Pleas, in October following pressure from outside of the island.

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