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Frontpage / About the Channel Islands

About the Channel Islands

Overview

The Channel Islands comprise the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. The Bailiwicks have a combined population of approximately 160,000. They are located just off the coast of France, in the English Channel. The Channel Islands have close links both to the United Kingdom and France as a consequence of their geography and history. The Islands are self-financing and have varied economies, which are mainly based on tourism, financial services and agriculture.

The Islands have diverse financial services industries, with particular strengths in banking, investment fund management, fiduciary services and captive insurance, as well as a vibrant business services sector. Both Jersey and Guernsey are committed to meeting or exceeding the highest international regulatory and supervisory standards, for example receiving very positive independent assessments by the IMF against the FATF standards for countering money laundering and terrorist financing, by the OECD on tax transparency, and by the Financial Stability Board on the application of prudential regulation. Jersey and Guernsey also proactively help to set global standards in a range of international bodies such as the International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) and the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Constitutional Status

The Bailiwicks are autonomous British Crown Dependencies. They have their own parliaments and legal systems, and are not part of the UK. The Lieutenant-Governors of each Bailiwick are the Queen’s representatives in the Islands. The UK Government is constitutionally responsible for the Islands’ defence and for formal international representation. The establishment of an office in Brussels is an important step in the Islands developing their international identities with a distinct but complementary voice in international affairs to that of the UK.

History

The Bailiwicks are the last remnants of the medieval Duchy of Normandy of which they were part before the Norman Conquest. The Bailiwicks remained in allegiance to the King of England when continental Normandy was lost in 1204. As a result of their fidelity, the King of England permitted them to follow their own laws and customs and liberties; which rights were later confirmed by the charters of successive sovereigns securing for Islands the rights to their own judiciaries, freedom from the English courts (i.e. the rights be governed and judged by their own laws in domestic matters) and other important privileges.

Although the Bailiwicks share a common history, and similar legal and constitutional systems, there are also differences between the Bailiwicks, as illustrated by the further information in this section.