Guernsey’s first female Deputy Bailiff is sworn in

HISTORY was made in the Royal Court yesterday when the first female Deputy Bailiff was installed.

The installation of Jessica Roland as Deputy Bailiff of Guernsey was held yesterday at the Royal Court. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28257793)
The installation of Jessica Roland as Deputy Bailiff of Guernsey was held yesterday at the Royal Court. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28257793)

Plans for a bigger ceremony for the swearing in of Jessica Roland had to be curtailed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with many people watching proceedings remotely via the internet.

Despite this, the Guernsey-born advocate said the gravity and consequence of the day was not diminished for her.

‘To be sworn in as Deputy Bailiff to serve the communities of the Bailiwick; communities that have worked together in the way our Bailiwick islands have particularly over these past weeks is a tremendous privilege,’ she said.

‘I have not trodden the usual path to this role but nevertheless there are some precedents.

‘Like Sir Richard Collas [former Bailiff] my first degree was not in law.

‘And, like him, my route to this role was private practice not the law officers.’

Local support network Women in Public Life chair Shelaine Green was thrilled to welcome the island’s first female Deputy Bailiff.

‘We wish Ms Roland every success and look forward to watching her deputise for the Bailiff at States meetings in the future.

‘This historic moment comes at a time when female leadership is very evident in Guernsey and we hope that this inspires other women to put themselves forward for all sorts of roles in our community.’

Ms Roland studied at United World College of the Atlantic, Sussex University, The College of Law, York, and the Université de Caen, France.

She said she was only able to do this because of grants from the Guernsey States as her family circumstances would not have otherwise enabled it to happen.

‘Since my appointment was announced last autumn I have been watching carefully how to conduct the role of presiding officer of the States of Deliberation – initially from the back of the States Chamber and then virtually,’ she said.

‘Presiding over the States will be entirely new for me and I know it comes at a most crucial time for our island and indeed the Bailiwick as a whole.

‘None of us are in any doubt that difficult times still lie ahead, particularly economically.

‘Unlike the office of Bailiff the office of Deputy Bailiff is not an ancient one. Like me it arrived in 1969.’

Ms Roland’s mother, husband John, and daughters Cate and Orla were among the few present in the Royal Court Chamber for yesterday’s ceremony. The girls, like their mother, attended Forest School.

‘My favourite thing to do when I have free time is to walk the lanes and the cliff paths with our dog and whichever members of the family I can persuade to join me,’ said Ms Roland.

‘We very much enjoy skiing and sailing holidays but also spending time in Ireland with friends and family in the area where John is from.’

Ms Roland was educated at the Forest Primary School and the Grammar School for Girls.

She joined law firm Ozannes in 1998, becoming a partner in 2005 and was made managing partner from 2013.

She was called to the Guernsey Bar in 1999.

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