Channel Islands Factsheet


Introduction to Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are a group of islands in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They include two separate bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey, they are British Crown dependencies, but neither is part of the United Kingdom.

Jersey is the larger of the two islands, with a total area of some 45 square miles, whilst Guernsey comes in at nearer 30 square miles. They have a total population of about 158,000. Their respective capitals, St. Peter Port and St. Helier, have populations of 16,488 and 28,310.

Situated close to the north coast of France, these unique islands benefit from their close proximity to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, offering not only an enviable climate, but also beautiful surroundings. Retaining their own laws, tax system, currency and small individual parliaments, life is altogether different here.


The Legal Market

Jersey's legal market is notably bigger than its counterpart in Guernsey, reflecting the jurisdiction's larger financial services sector. In terms of breadth of practice and quality of service, five firms dominate the landscape: Bedell Cristin, Carey Olsen, Mourant de Feu & Jeune, Appleby and Ogier.

Although part of the United Kingdom, each of the Channel Islands has its own legal system and courts based on common law concepts from French-Norman and English law. The islands are not part of the European Union and are therefore not subject to EU legislation. The legal community comprises of locally qualified solicitors and advocates, and foreign lawyers. Both local and foreign lawyers can advise on trusts, corporate and finance law, but only locally qualified Jersey lawyers can appear before the courts.

To re-qualify in Jersey, you must have been practising on the island for at least 2 years. Once you have done this, you will need to undertake 6 exams from which you must obtain 14 units (it is important to not that one of the exams, Conveyancing, will be in French).

To requalify in Guernsey, you must have been practising on the island for 3 years. The exam process is very similar to Jersey, but it involves a 2-3 month residential stay in Cannes (France) for part of the course.


Money Matters

The cost of living in Channel Islands is mostly equivalent to the UK - however some items, such as cars, jewellery, appliances, alcohol and cosmetics are generally cheaper than in the UK (due to the lower tax rates).

Both locations have a “local” and “open” property market system. Unfortunately, you cannot just rent anything which happens to be available. In Jersey, only locals or those who have been on the island for a significant number of years are eligible to buy the majority of the property on the island. All others will rent. Some law firms will provide their lawyers an opportunity to apply for a “j Category Licence”, this will allow you to rent/buy property which is otherwise reserved for the local market.

Because the island has a limited housing stock, Guernsey has a unique housing control system, which also functions as a form of population control. This system splits the housing stock into two tiers: the Open Market and the Local Market. Although there are no restrictions on buying property in Guernsey, there are on occupation. Local Market properties can only be occupied by those who hold local qualifications, while Open Market properties are more widely available.


Red Tape

Work permits for employment in the Channel Islands are generally not required for UK, EEA or Commonwealth citizens. Other wise, lawyers will need a “Skilled Worker” permit (firms will normally arrange for any necessary work permits to be put in place).

Daily flights connect the islands with London and most other mainland airports. There are also regular car ferry links to the UK and into France.


After Work

With an amazing variety of terrain for walkers, a coastline ideally suited to water sports, and a network of country lanes perfect for cyclists, the great outdoors is exactly that in Jersey. The Island’s also home to world-renowned attractions like Durrell Wildlife, and spectacular events such as the Battle of Flowers Parade.

Guernsey has a lively and well patronised cultural scene a large concert hall boasts an extensive diary of performances by both visiting and local musicians. There are also a number of galleries and exhibition spaces that house permanent and touring works. The local art college has a programme of visiting artists, while pubs host music events as diverse as rock nights and baroque choral evenings.


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