Jersey and Guernsey (in addition to the Caribbean Islands and Bermuda) tend to be the jurisdictions which solicitors and barristers focus on if they are looking to move offshore from the UK mainland.
Reasons for moving offshore usually involve a desire to improve quality of life without compromising on the quality of work which many solicitors/ barristers are used to undertaking and without suffering a fall in income.
Firms on the Channel Islands tend to focus on Commercial (in the generic sense) law, Private Client law and law relating to financial services. There is no mystique to being considered for a role in either Jersey or Guernsey. Firms in the Channel Islands are keen to consider good quality lawyers of all levels (NQ to partner level) from good London, regional or Scottish firms, although there may be some minor issues in relation to requalification which must be taken into consideration, particularly if you are a more senior lawyer. However, those wishing to re-qualify to become either Jersey or Guernsey qualified will be fully supported by their firms and sent on the appropriate courses in order to assist them in passing all the necessary exams. If you wish to find out more about the re-qualification process, please call us and we will gladly discuss in this in further detail.
Tax in the Channel Islands is capped at 20% with National Insurance contributions way lower than those on the UK mainland. Salaries, at a given level of PQE, are usually equivalent to the salary that could be expected at one of the larger commercial firms in the City with the added advantage of paying 20% tax so, in actuality, you are better off financially at a given level of salary.
As indicated the quality of work and calibre of your potential peers is outstanding. The work is often of an international nature and most of the firms in the Channel Islands possess an international client base. Channel Islands firms tend to be involved in high quality Corporate, Financial, Private Client (high and ultra-high net worth individuals only) and Trusts Litigation matters and equivalent to the quality of work which is found in many of the top London practices. Indeed, many of the top London and regional firms who are involved in matters with an offshore element will interface with and in certain instances, where appropriate, instruct firms in the Channel Islands.
Channel Islands firms tend to recruit from the following disciplines:
- Asset Finance
- Banking Litigation
- Chancery Litigation
- Commercial (non-transactional – advisory & drafting)
- Commercial Litigation
- Commercial Property/ Real Estate
- Corporate (inc. M & A)
- Corporate Tax
- Financial Services/ Financial Services Litigation
- Insolvency & Restructuring
- Insurance & Re-Insurance
- Investment Funds
- Private Client (Tax & Trusts also some Wills/Probate)
- Private Equity
- Trusts Litigation
As indicated above, it is possible to move over to the Channel Islands and practice as a solicitor without re-qualifying as long as you are already a UK or Commonwealth qualified solicitor or barrister. However, this statement has one or two caveats attached to it and there are certain limitations on lawyers who don’t re-qualify. These may or may not present a problem depending on what area of law you specialise in and what career aspirations you have.
In both Jersey and Guernsey, it is not possible for a lawyer to advocate in or appear before the courts unless they are Jersey or Guernsey qualified. Litigators looking to move to the Channel Islands and wanting to appear as advocates would therefore have to give serious consideration to re-qualification. However, if your work has a strong international flavour this might not be necessary.
It is also technically not possible to become a partner in a Jersey or Guernsey based law firm unless you are Jersey or Guernsey qualified. However, there are ways of circumventing this, but this really depends on the firm in question and what the individual policy of that firm is.
If you are interested in re-qualifying, we can provide you with further information on what that re-qualification process would entail.
Both Jersey & Guernsey have a ‘local’ and ‘open’ property market system
In Jersey, only locals and people who have resided on the island for a certain number of years have the choice to buy the majority of real estate on the island. However,
some firms will provide access to the ‘local’ property market for their lawyers by applying for a J-Cat licence. This entitles you to rent/buy property which is otherwise reserved for the local property market (if you wish to buy, however, the choice would be from a limited housing stock). Such properties tend to be greater in number and therefore rents are slightly lower compared with those on the open market where rents are usually slightly higher.
Guernsey differs slightly from Jersey. Non-locals require a housing licence which their employer obtains to become eligible to buy and rent property on the ‘local’ market. It is possible to buy and rent on the ‘open’ market, though there are few suitable properties to rent on the ‘open’ market due to limited housing stock.
Housing should not be an issue of great concern on either island because if you land a role with a law firm on the Channel Islands almost all the firms without exception will offer you significant help and assistance in securing suitable accommodation.