Being elected as a Jurat is, in the Bailiff’s words, “the greatest honour Guernsey can bestow on a member of the community”. There are sixteen Jurats (listed here) and a new one is elected when an existing Jurat retires.
Our description of the role of a Jurat is one of our most popular sections of the Women in Public Life website – Guernsey folk are keen to understand our Bailiwick’s unusual and historic jury system.
So at each election, we create an Information Hub to help make the election of a Jurat more accessible to the public.
A Jurat election took place on 5 July 2023. The vacancy was created by the retirement of Jurat Terry Ferbrache (election notice).
- Richard James 57 votes (elected)
- Michael Morris 34 votes
Listening to the election
The gallery at the Royal Court is closed to members of the public when a Jurat election is taking place. The seats are needed for the additional people who make up the States of Election.
However, whenever the States of Election meets you can listen in the same way that you would follow a States meeting:
- BBC Radio Guernsey 1116AM (medium wave radio)
- BBC Radio Guernsey online
- States of Guernsey website (go to gov.gg/States Meetings and click on ‘States Meeting 25 January 2023’).
If you can’t listen live, you can use the States Meetings link to hear a recording later.
The election process
The States of Deliberation is the body that meets regularly to decide how the Island is run. The States of Election is a larger group than the States of Deliberation and is made up of 38 Deputies, 34 Douzeniers, the 16 Jurats, the 10 Rectors, HM Comptroller, HM Procureur and the Bailiff.
Members of the States of Election are provided with the nomination forms and CVs of each candidate in advance.
The States of Election meets in the Royal Court at 9.30am on a Wednesday morning, ahead of a States of Deliberation meeting.
After a roll call to verify who is present, both the proposer and seconder of each candidate make a short speech explaining why the person that they are supporting is suitable for the role of Jurat.
The candidates do not speak. In fact, they are not present for the election.
After the speeches, each elector fills in a voting slip and places it in a ballot box. It is a secret ballot, no-one knows who has voted for whom. Each elector has one vote.
There is a pause while the votes are counted. Then the Presiding Officer (usually the Bailiff) reads out the result.
If one candidate has received more than 50% of the votes, that person is duly elected.
If no candidate has received more than 50% of the votes then the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated and the voting process is repeated.
Once a candidate has passed the 50% threshold the Presiding Officer declares that candidate to be duly elected. He or she instructs HM Sheriff to find the person in question to inform them of their election and request their presence in Court at a later date to be sworn in.
HM Sheriff must relay the Bailiff’s message in person. He will have prepared a list of the likely locations of each candidate.
The swearing in
The new Jurat is sworn in at a meeting of the Royal Court. If you would like to watch, contact the Bailiff’s Chambers on 226161 to find out the date and whether there will be space (family members naturally take priority). The swearing in of a Jurat is a process steeped in history and tradition – you can read a full description here.
Only one Jurat can be elected at once. Candidates who are not successful in their first election are permitted to stand again if they wish.