How Laws are Made

How are Guernsey laws made?

In Guernsey there are two kinds of laws:

  • Customary laws
    which develop and evolve through custom and practice
  • Statutory laws

The steps for making a new law are:

A States’ Committee will identify the need for a new law or amendments to an existing law. The civil servants who serve that Committee will carry out research and present their findings to the Committee. A policy letter will be constructed explaining the need for what is being proposed. Normally the policy letter will be written by civil servants as instructed by the Committee.

Once approved by the Committee, the policy letter is published, circulated to all States’ members and included in a Billet d’État – the agenda – for a future States’ meeting.

At this meeting, the President of the Committee, which is proposing the new or amended law, will explain why to the other States’ members.

Law

The States Members will all have a chance to comment on and debate the new law.

States Members vote verbally at the States meeting in the Royal Court. They can vote ‘pour’ (for) or ‘contre’ (against) introducing the new law, or they can say ‘Je ne vote pas’ (I am not voting).

If most of the States Members want the new law, then the Law Officers get to work on writing it. There are two different ways they can do this:

  • They write it as a Projet de Loi. Once the States and the Privy Council in the UK have approved the law, it then becomes known as an Order in Council
  • Alternatively, it is written as an Ordinance. The Privy Council does not need to approve these laws. However, this type of law cannot introduce new taxes or change any existing laws

 

  • For an Order in Council the Bailiff asks the Crown to approve it. Once this has happened, the Royal Court registers the new law
  • If it is an Ordinance, only the States need to approve it

 

The new law is now ready to be used