The Crown Dependencies are the Bailiwick of Jersey, the Bailiwick of Guernsey (which includes the jurisdictions of Guernsey, Alderney and Sark) and the Isle of Man.
The Crown Dependencies are not part of the UK but are self-governing dependencies of the Crown. This means they have their own directly elected legislative assemblies, administrative, fiscal and legal systems and courts of law. They are not represented in the UK parliament.
The constitutional relationship of the Islands with the UK is through the Crown and is not enshrined in a formal constitutional document. HM Government is responsible for the defence and international relations of the Islands. The Crown, acting through the Privy Council, is ultimately responsible for ensuring their good government.
The Queen is the Head of State of each Island and the Lieutenant-Governor for each Crown Dependency is Her Majesty’s personal representative. The Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice is the Privy Counsellor with special responsibility for Island Affairs and is supported by a Ministry of Justice Minister who is responsible for the conduct of Islands’ business within Whitehall.
The Ministry of Justice is responsible for managing the constitutional relationship with the Crown Dependencies, which involves a variety of different responsibilities including involvement in key Crown Appointments, processing their legislation for Royal Assent and issuing Letters of Entrustment authorising Crown Dependency Governments to negotiate and conclude international agreements.
All UK Government Departments have a responsibility to engage directly with the Crown Dependencies on their policy areas. The Government Response to the 2014 Justice Select Committee Report on the Crown Dependencies contains information on how Government Departments should consult Crown Dependencies on relevant issues.
In consultation with the islands, we have produced a fact-sheet and ‘How to’ notes on working with the Crown Dependencies (including information on how Government Departments should consult Crown Dependencies on relevant issues). These can be found above with other key Crown Dependencies documents.
The Crown Dependencies have never been colonies of the UK. Nor are they Overseas Territories, like Gibraltar, which have a different relationship with the UK. More information about the Overseas Territories who are overseen in Whitehall by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) can be found on the FCO’s Overseas Territories Webpages and FCO’s 2012 White Paper on Overseas Territories.