Crown Office in Chancery
Department overview
HeadquartersHouse of Lords
London, SW1A 0PW
Employees4
Minister responsible
Department executives
Parent departmentMinistry of Justice
Key document

The Crown Office, also known (especially in official papers) as the Crown Office in Chancery, is a section of the Ministry of Justice (formerly the Lord Chancellor's Department). It has custody of the Great Seal of the Realm, and has certain administrative functions in connection with the courts and the judicial process, as well as functions relating to the electoral process for House of Commons elections, to the keeping of the Roll of the Peerage, and to the preparation of royal documents such as warrants required to pass under the royal sign-manual, fiats, letters patent, etc. In legal documents, the Crown Office refers to the office of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.[1]

The Crown Office is employed by the Head of the Crown Office, one sealer and two scribes.[2][3]

Responsibilities

Warrants, patents and charters

All formal royal documents (such as warrants to be signed by the Monarch; letters patent, both those that are signed by the Queen herself and those that are approved by warrant; and royal charters) are prepared by the Crown Office.[4][5]

The name of the Clerk of the Crown is subscribed/printed at the end of all documents as a way of authentication of their having passed through the Crown Office.[6] This is also done in notices placed by the Crown Office in The Gazette.

Great Seal of the Realm

Main article: Great Seal of the Realm

The Crown Office is also responsible for sealing with the Great Seal of the Realm all documents that need to pass under that seal,[7] once the authority for the use of the seal is signified by the Sovereign (authorization to use the Seal is granted either by the monarch signing a warrant that approves the draft text of letters patent, directs that they be prepared and authorizes them to be sealed and issued; or by the Sovereign directly signing the letters patent that are to pass under the great seal, as is necessary in some cases, such as with letters patent that grant Royal Assent to bills passed by Parliament and with instruments of consent relating to royal marriages).[8][9]

Royal assent

The Crown Office is involved in the royal assent process, both when this happens in person by the Lords Commissioners and by notification to both Houses of Parliament. In all cases, the Crown Office prepares letters patent for royal assent to bills. When royal assent occurs at the Prorogation of Parliament, the Clerk of the Crown reads out the short titles of Acts due to receive royal assent, after which the Clerk of the Parliaments notifies both Houses of royal assent to every Act, usually with the endorsement “La Reyne le veult”.[10] When royal assent is given by notification to both Houses, sitting separately, by the Speaker and Lord Speaker, the Crown Office prepares and delivers to the Speaker and Lord Speaker a certificate notifying them that the sovereign has given royal assent to the Acts listed in the certificate, and directing that royal assent be notified by the Speaker and Lord Speaker, or one of their deputies, in their respective Chambers.[11]

Roll of the peerage, baronetage

The Crown Office is responsible for maintaining and updating the Roll of the Peerage. The Secretary of State for Justice is the keeper of the Peerage Roll, and his duties in that regard are daily discharged by a Registrar of the Peerage and a Deputy Registrar, who work within the Crown Office and are therefore under the supervision of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, who assumes the position of Registrar of the Peerage.[12] The duties of the Ministry of Justice regarding the keeping and maintenance of the Roll of the Peerage are discharged in collaboration with the Garter King of Arms and Lord Lyon King of Arms, regarding their respective heraldic jurisdictions.[13] The Crown Office also compiles the Official Roll of the Baronetage.[14]

House of Commons and elections

The Crown Office also has duties relating to the elections for the House of Commons. The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery initiates a parliamentary election in a constituency by sending an election writ to the returning officer of the constituency, and historically received all ballot papers and ballot stubs after the election was complete[15] though they are now kept locally by the registration officer for each area (and retained for a year).[16]

At the first meeting of the House of Commons following a general election, the Clerk of the Crown delivers the Book of Returns to the Clerk of the House of Commons, which contains the list of MPs returned to Parliament.[17] However, this has usually been done by the Deputy Clerk of the Crown, most recently in 2010,[18] 2015[19] and 2017.[20] The list is also published on the Gazette, on a notice placed by the Crown Office.

Clerk of the Crown in Chancery

Main article: Clerk of the Crown in Chancery

The Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, whose office has, since 1885, been held in addition to the position of Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice,[21] is the titular head of the Crown Office, though this distinction is regularly used by the Deputy Clerk; they are appointed by the Monarch under the royal sign-manual.[22]

The Clerk of the Crown also holds the responsibilities of the old office of Secretary of Presentations,[23] which was part of the Lord Chancellor's Department and gave recommendations on the appointment of senior members of the Church of England and other ecclesiastical patronage work.[24] The office was amalgamated into that of the Clerk of the Crown in 1890.[25]

Deputy and assistant clerks

They are assisted by Deputy Clerks of the Crown in Chancery, which vary between one and two, and deputize in full capacity for the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery when needed.[a][b] The last instance of this happening was in 2020 (September-December), before the current clerk, Antonia Romeo was appointed, during which time Ceri King, Deputy Clerk, assumed the full position of Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.[31][32] The office of Assistant Clerk of the Crown in Chancery is also used.[c]

Notes

  1. ^ Ceri King is known to have been Deputy Clerk since at least 27 April 2017,[26] and has, during her tenure, signed as the Head of the Crown Office and Registrar of the Peerage.
  2. ^ Charles Ian Paul Denyer was known to have been Deputy Clerk since at least 31 December 1997,[27] until 13 October 2019.[28] Upon appointment to the Royal Victorian Order, he was described to be the Clerk of the Chamber and Head of the Crown Office,[29] and later described to be the Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery upon appointment to the Order of the British Empire.[30]
  3. ^ Grant A. Bavister is the last known Assistant Clerk of the Crown in Chancery (also Assistant Head of the Crown Office and Assistant Registrar of the Peerage).[33]

References

  1. ^ Crown Office Act 1877, section 7
  2. ^ Rogers, David (2015). By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council - the Unknown Arm of Government. Biteback Publishing. The Great Seal of the Realm is in the custodoy of the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, who is also the Lord Chancellor. The affixing of [the] Great Seal is the responsibility of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. [They are] helped by a deputy and one Sealer and two Scribes to Her Majesty's Crown Office.
  3. ^ "[Crown Office] Department Information (Freedom of Information Request)" (PDF). WhatDoTheyKnow. Retrieved 14 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Crown Office General Guidance for Warrants and Patents" (PDF). Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  5. ^ "Great Seal (Offices) Act 1874 (section 8)". The National Archives. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  6. ^ "The Crown Office (Preparation and Authentication of Documents Rules) Order 1988". The National Archives. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  7. ^ Rogers, David (2015). By Royal Appointment: Tales from the Privy Council - the Unknown Arm of Government. Biteback Publishing. The affixing of [the] Great Seal is the responsibility of the Clerk of the Crown in Chancery.
  8. ^ "Crown Office General Guidance for Warrants and Patents" (PDF). Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  9. ^ "Great Seal (Offices) Act 1874 (section 8)". The National Archives. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Modern practice". www.parliament.uk. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  11. ^ "Yvette Cooper MP's Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 2021-03-24.
  12. ^ "No. 57314". The London Gazette. 11 June 2004. pp. 7320–7321.
  13. ^ "Roll of the Peerage". College of Arms. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  14. ^ "No. 28339". The London Gazette. 15 February 1910. pp. 1123–1124.
  15. ^ Mullin, Chris; Corbett, Robin; Cranston, Ross; Hawkins, Nick; Howarth, Gerald; Hughes, Beverly; Linton, Martin; Malins, Humfrey; Russell, Bob; Singh, Marsha; Winnick, David (1 October 1998). "Appendix 2: Memorandum by Professor Robert Blackburn, BA, MSc, PhD, FRHistS, Solicitor, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of London (King's College)". Fourth Report: Electoral Law and Administration (vol. II). London: The Stationery Office. ISBN 010555040X. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  16. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1983 (Schedule 1 [rule 55])". The National Archives. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  17. ^ "HC Deb". 434. 11 May 2005. ALEXANDER CLAUD STUART ALLEN, Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered to [...] ROGER BLAKEMORE SANDS [Clerk of the House of Commons] a book containing a list of the names of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  18. ^ "HC Deb". 596. 18 May 2010. Charles Ian Paul Denyer, Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered [...] said Malcolm Roy Jack [Clerk of the House of Commons] a book containing a list of the names of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  19. ^ "HC Deb". 596. 18 May 2015. Ian Denyer, Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered to [...] Jacqy Sharpe [acting Clerk Assistant] a book containing a list of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  20. ^ "HC Deb". 626. 13 June 2017. Ceri King, Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery in Great Britain, delivered to [...] John Benger [Clerk Assistant] a book containing a list of the Members returned to serve in this Parliament. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  21. ^ Hall, Jean Graham; Martin, Douglas F. (2003). Yes, Lord Chancellor: A Biography of Lord Schuster: Permanent Secretary to 10 Lord Chancellors. Chichester: Barry Rose Law Publications. ISBN 1-902681-35-5.
  22. ^ "The Crown Office (Forms and Proclamations Rules) Order 1992". The National Archives. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  23. ^ Woodhouse, Diana (2001). The office of Lord Chancellor. Oxford: Hart. ISBN 1-84113-021-4.
  24. ^ "Records of the Lord Chancellor's Office and of various legal commissions and committees". The National Archives. The National Archives. Retrieved 21 March 2021. Prior to 1884 the Lord Chancellor was assisted by a number of secretaries, including a principal secretary for general business, a secretary of presentations for ecclesiastical patronage work, a secretary of commissions and a secretary for County Court business.
  25. ^ "Crown Office Act 1890". The National Archives. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  26. ^ "House of Lords Chamber". parliamentlive.tv. 27 April 2017. Retrieved 23 March 2021.
  27. ^ "No. 55007". The London Gazette. 31 December 1997. p. 115. The QUEEN has been pleased to issue a new Commission of Lieutenancy for the City of London, dated 31st December 1997, constituting several persons to be Her Majesty’s Lieutenants within the City. C. I. P. Denyer
  28. ^ "No. 62801". The London Gazette. 13 October 2019. p. 18812. THE QUEEN has been pleased by Letters Patent under the Great Seal of the Realm dated 13 October 2019 to appoint Timothy John Le Cocq, Esquire, Q.C., Deputy Bailiff of the Island of Jersey, to the Office of Bailiff of the said Island. C.I.P. Denyer
  29. ^ "No. 57509". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 31 December 2004. p. 4. Charles Ian Paul DENYER, Clerk of the Chamber and Head of the Crown Office in Chancery.
  30. ^ "No. 61450". The London Gazette (1st supplement). 30 December 2015. p. N12. Charles Ian Paul DENYER, M.V.O., Deputy Clerk of the Crown in Chancery, Crown Office, Ministry of Justice. For services to Constitutional and Ceremonial Administration.
  31. ^ "Ecclesiastical Letters Patent (Freedom of Information Request)". WhatDoTheyKnow. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  32. ^ "List of English Barons who are still a life and their Office and Rules in today Society (Freedom of Information Request)". WhatDoTheyKnow. Retrieved 19 March 2021.
  33. ^ "Roll of the Peerage (Freedom of Information Request)". WhatDoTheyKnow. Retrieved 19 March 2021.