90th Bailiff installed at virtual ceremony

News | Published:

THE 90th Bailiff of Guernsey was installed at a virtual special sitting of the Royal Court yesterday.

Richard McMahon has been sworn in as Bailiff. He is pictured with his family, left to right, Oisin, 16, Hamish, 20, and wife Sue-Yin. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 28252623)

Richard McMahon, who was appointed Deputy Bailiff in March 2012, takes over from Sir Richard Collas, who retired at the weekend.

Mr McMahon was called to the English Bar, Middle Temple, in 1986 and to the Guernsey Bar in 1998.

In 2009, he was appointed HM Comptroller and, as a consequence, Deputy to HM Receiver General for Guernsey. At the same time, he was appointed Queen’s Counsel.

A small number of people were in the Royal Court Chamber when Mr McMahon took the oath – the majority watching remotely via the internet.

He said it was a huge privilege and honour to be sworn into office for such an ancient and honourable role.

He held deep gratitude to so many people who had supported him along the way, including his predecessors in the role.

He thanked his wife, Sue-Yin, and his two children who ‘keep me rooted in reality’.

Mr McMahon was born in 1962 and educated at Abingdon School; Liverpool University; Emmanuel College, Cambridge; the Inns of Court School of Law in London; and the Université de Caen, France.


He lectured in law at the University of Reading from 1987 to 1995, whilst maintaining a general common law practice at the English Bar. He came to Guernsey in 1995 as a legislative draftsman; in 2000, he was appointed a Crown Advocate and Director of Civil Litigation; and in 2008 External Relations Policy and Legal Adviser.

In his spare time Mr McMahon is keen on watching sport and is a regular at Guernsey FC games.

He also enjoys singing and is a member of the Guernsey Chamber Choir and the Torteval Church choir.

Jurat Stephen Jones, who presided over the court for the swearing in, said the fact that proceedings had been curtailed a bit due to the current pandemic did not diminish the importance of the occasion.


HM Procureur Megan Pullum said Mr McMahon had a keen eye for legal and presentational detail. He was the only person outside of St James Chambers to have undertaken proof reading of draft legislation on a voluntary basis.

He had a faintly terrifying and encyclopaedic knowledge of rules of procedure which made him the ideal person to preside over the States.

He was the 90th Bailiff of Guernsey, but only the second to be called Richard. Bailiffs for many years were appointed by jurats but it is now done by The Crown.

Speaking from Government House, the Lt-Governor Vice Admiral Sir Ian Corder offered his and The Queen’s warmest congratulations to Mr McMahon at his appointment.

Mr McMahon could probably feel the penetrating gaze of his 89 predecessors looking down on him but Sir Ian said he had the utmost confidence that their legacy was in good hands.

His reputation as a judge was a formidable one and he was taking on the role at a time when uncertainty and the challenges faced were the greatest for a Bailiff in generations.

Nigel Baudains

By Nigel Baudains
News reporter

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