Living & working in the Channel Islands
Location, location, location
The Channel Islands are located in the English Channel, off the French coast of Normandy. They comprise two separate Bailiwicks: the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey; both are dependent on the British Crown. Jersey is the larger of the two islands, with a total area of some 45 square miles, whilst Guernsey comes in at nearer 30 square miles.
Working in the region
The legal markets in Jersey and Guernsey are
dominated by a select number of firms, the key ones being:
They tend to focus on the financial services industry insofar as international common law lawyers are concerned.They do provide legal services for the local market, but for UK or other qualified lawyers looking to relocate for the mid to long term, the key specialisations are corporate and finance law.The firms will generally hire good quality lawyers at all levels, although certain issues in relation to re-qualification must be taken into consideration for more senior lawyers.
The quality of work on offer and calibre of your potential peers is excellent. Most of the lawyers practising there have spent significant time abroad with leading City or international firms.The work will be of an international nature, and will stem from a world-wide client base. Channel Islands firms tend to be involved in first rate financial and corporate matters, equivalent to the type of work available in London based firms. • Appleby • Bedell Cristin • Carey Olsen • Collas Crill • Mourant Ozannes • Ogier • Ozannes • Walkers
Remuneration and benefits
Salaries in the Channel Islands at the junior level tend to be slightly lower than in London in comparison to, say, the “Magic Circle” rates – although the salaries are regularly commensurate with London City rates and sometimes higher for exceptional lawyers. At the more senior end (i.e. from 3 years’ PQE), you can expect to receive a very competitive level of remuneration.The following are approximate salaries for corporate or finance lawyers:
3 PQE – around £60,000 4/5 PQE – £65,000 to £80,000 6 PQE – £80,000 to £90,000 7 PQE – £100,000+
Tax is significantly lower than in the UK and is capped at 20%, with National Insurance contributions
capped at well below the 10% in the UK.This low tax rate means that a position in the Channel Islands will usually be at least as financially favourable as a London-based role, and will generally involve a significantly better work/life balance.
Work permits for employment in the Channel Islands are generally not required for UK, European or
Commonwealth citizens (if the Commonwealth citizen is subject to the “UK ancestry exemption”). Otherwise, lawyers will need a “Skilled Worker” permit (firms will normally arrange for any necessary work permits to be put in place). The ease with which firms are able to do this depends on the economy at any given time.
Both locations have a “local” and “open” property market system. In Jersey, only locals or those who have been on the island for a significant number of years are eligible to buy in the open market (which includes the majority of the read estate on the island). Those with the J-Cat licences (described below) can purchase from a limited housing stock. All others will rent. Some firms will provide access to the “local” property market for their lawyers by applying for a “J Category” licence.This entitles you to rent/buy property which is otherwise reserved for the local market. Such properties tend to be greater in number and therefore better priced.
On the open market, the rent is usually slightly higher. The more senior the lawyer, the more likely it is that the firm will apply for and succeed in obtaining a “J-Cat” (around 2 years PQE is the minimum). If you would be happy with a nice apartment with harbour views, due to the vast expansion of such developments, a “JCat” will not be required.
Accommodation in Guernsey is slightly different to that in Jersey. Non-locals will require a housing licence, which their employer obtains, to become eligible to buy and rent property on the “local market”. Otherwise, you can buy and rent on the “open” market, although there are few suitable properties to rent on the “open” market due to the limited housing stock available on the island. Housing licences are usually easily obtained by the law firms on the island. In terms of buying costs, you should expect to pay London rates for apartments and free-standing houses (whether on the “local” or “open” market) in both locations. If you intend to buy real estate in Jersey, but would otherwise be ineligible to do so, it is possible to have a corporate trust structure put in place which purchases the legal interest in the property, leaving the equitable interest yours.
With around 90,000 people in Jersey and 65,000 in Guernsey, both islands have a serenity that cannot be found in bustling cities. Each has a good number of bars and restaurants, usually focused on the shorefront areas (which have been, and continue to be, redeveloped and expanded). Activities on the island are numerous, but tend to centre on outdoor pursuits and, in particular, watersports.
It is perhaps fair to say that both islands are catered more towards couples and young families rather than singles, although the bar scene has certainly become more vibrant in the last few years.The schooling on both islands is of the highest quality, with both private and state-funded options available. One of the main selling points for working in the Channel Islands is the excellent work/life balance on offer.
The working day is generally from 9am to 6pm, and most commutes to work will involve a simple beach-front stroll or bike ride. Billable targets also tend to be a lot less than in the City, and the firms try to generate a real sense of “family” in the working environment.
Daily flights connect the islands with London and most other mainland airports. There are also regular car ferry links to the UK and France.
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For more information on living and working in the Channel Islands or if you are interested in relocation to the region please contact: Emily Rae
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