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 175,000. Their respective capitals, St. Helier and St. Peter Port, have populations of circa 33,500 and 19,000. 

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: Appleby, Carey Olsen, Mourant, Ogier and Walkers. 

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 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 lawyers can appear before the courts. 

Should you wish 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 a series of 6 exams. 

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 study in France for part of the course. 


Money Matters 

The cost of living in the 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/VAT rates). 

Both locations have a “local” and “open” property market system. Unfortunately, you cannot just rent or buy anything which happens to be available. In Jersey, only locals or those who have been on the island for a number of years are eligible to buy the majority of the property on the island. All others will rent. Most law firms can potentially provide an opportunity to apply for a “j Category Licence” although the number of licences available to each firm is limited; 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.  Local Market properties can only be rented or bought by locally qualified residents or "housing licence" holders (such licences being generally available to law firms hiring new professional staff), while Open Market properties are more widely available although also fewer in number and more expensive. 


Red Tape 

Work permits for employment in the Channel Islands are generally not required for UK or EEA citizens, or Commonwealth citizens who qualify for a UK Ancestry Visa. Otherwise, lawyers will need a “Skilled Worker” visa (firms will normally arrange for any necessary Channel Islands visa 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 islands are 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 supported cultural scene, including a large concert hall that 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 and other music venues host events as diverse as rock nights and baroque choral evenings. 


For more information please contact your advising consultant at Garfield Robbins International on +44 (0)7912 392 835 or email us at


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