The Under Sheriff

Appointment of an Under Sheriff

Under the Sheriffs Act 1887, the High Sheriff has a legal duty to appoint an Under Sheriff.  This is an annual appointment and the High Sheriff must by law, within one month of taking Office, give to the Queen’s Remembrancer details of the person they have appointed as their Under Sheriff. This is usually done at the time that the new High Sheriff makes the Declaration of Office. Duchy Counties have a different system of appointment of an Under Sheriff and the incumbent will advise.

In many counties the Under Sheriff (usually a solicitor) will have been in post for a number of years and the Office may well have been held by others in his or her firm over a long period of time.  High Sheriffs in nomination will wish to ensure that the person they appoint will have the skills and experience needed to give the support required.  It is not possible to be prescriptive because each county and each High Sheriff is different and has different needs. It is strongly recommended that before taking Office and at least six or nine months ahead, the High Sheriff in nomination discusses with the current Under Sheriff the degree of support which the High Sheriff in nomination can expect and the charges (if any) which an Under Sheriff may make to the High Sheriff for services rendered. In this way the High Sheriff can make an informed decision about the appointment of his or her Under Sheriff and both parties can have a clear idea of each other’s role and the obligations of one to the other.

The Under Sheriff has a vital role in ensuring continuity. He or she can give valuable advice to new High Sheriffs and can sometimes provide secretarial help. They are familiar with the protocols of the Court and have considerable experience of ceremonial matters. Most Under Sheriffs are members of the High Sheriffs’ Association.