The Channel Islands (“the Islands”) comprise the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey. The Islands have a combined population of approximately 174,000. They are located just off the coast of France, in the English Channel. The Islands are autonomous British Crown Dependencies. with a direct allegiance to the British Crown which goes back over 800 years. 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, but the Islands are not part of the UK. They are not represented in the UK (Westminster) Parliament and receive no financial subsidy from the UK government. They have their own parliaments and legal systems, and full fiscal autonomy.
The constitutional relationship between the Crown Dependencies (the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey, and the Isle of Man) and the UK is different to that of the UK Overseas Territories. The UK Ministry of Justice is responsible for managing the constitutional relationship with the Crown Dependencies.
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.