The role of The Sheriffs

The Sheriffs support the Lord Mayor, they advise him on matters important to the City, help with hosting dinners for visiting dignitaries, and travel with him in his business visits. They also look after the welfare of the Judges at the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey) within the City and make sure that the court’s business runs smoothly.

They are elected each year on Midsummer’s day by the City livery companies. One must be an Alderman – the senior representative of one of the City’s Wards, and the other an elected position – and both Sheriffs need to be members of a livery company. Their tenure is one year and runs from September to September.

The office of Sheriff dates back to at least the 7th Century, making it the oldest office in the City of London. Although no longer directly involved in the administration of justice or the collection of taxes, the two Sheriffs of the City of London reside in the Old Bailey and work closely with the Recorder of London and the judges of the Central Criminal Court to promote the rule of law and England’s courts and legal services. Throughout their year in office the Sheriffs work closely with the Lord Mayor and Guildhall to support the Lord Mayor’s and the City’s programme of activities, on occasions joining the Lord Mayor on his or her international business visits. The Sheriffs host a number of events during the year at the Old Bailey to promote charitable and philanthropic causes, including the Sheriffs’ and Recorder’s Fund and the Lord Mayor’s Appeal.

Specific main tasks and responsibilities are:

  • To attend and support the Lord Mayor in carrying out his/her official duties; this includes City functions and national and international visits undertaken by the Lord Mayor on behalf of the City of London Corporation and the Business City.
  • To officiate at the Central Criminal Court; in particular, entertaining Her Majesty’s Judges and guests at lunch each day; this involves undertaking an important ambassadorial role on behalf of the City of London Corporation and acting together with the Aldermanic Sheriff as part of a fully committed and supportive team.
  • To make the substantial commitment that is required to fulfil the obligations and duties of the Shrieval Year (September – September) and being regularly available at his/her accommodation at the Old Bailey.
  • To conduct meetings and speak at functions whether in place of the Lord Mayor (in his/her absence) or in the Sheriff’s own right.
  • To attend meetings of Common Hall.
  • To take charge of, and conduct, the business of Common Hall in the absence of the Lord Mayor (i.e. at the election of the Lord Mayor, once the Lord Mayor and Senior Aldermen have withdrawn) with the support of the Aldermanic Sheriff, the Common Serjeant and other City Officers.

On taking office in September, it is traditional that a custom designed badge and chain of office is made for each Sheriff reflecting their career, mother livery company, their life and interests. The Shrieval campaign teams launch an appeal to raise funds for these magnificent chains of office, this gives an opportunity for friends, supporters and fellow liverymen to offer their congratulations and attend a Chain presentation ceremony.