The role of Lieut-Bailiff was one of considerable importance and power at many times over the centuries, because frequently the Bailiff was absent from the island for long periods or, indeed, in some cases never lived there, holding the title but pursuing another career in England.
When Sir Thomas Le Breton was appointed Bailiff in 1826 he was the first Bailiff to live in Jersey for 120 years, bringing to an end the period of 166 years during which the post passed from one member of the de Carteret (subsequently Carteret) family to another.
The choice of Lieut-Bailiff was always made from among the Jurats of the Royal Court, the most senior usually being selected. Although some Bailiffs appointed lieutenants to serve for life (Jurats were not required, and rarely allowed to retire), others just appointed them for fixed periods and sometimes two Lieut-Bailiffs held office at the same time
The role diminished in importance during the latter part of the 20th century, after the role of Deputy Bailiff was created in 1958, to share the Bailiff's workload at all times and deputise for him as necessary, but by tradition the senior Jurat was still nominated Lieut-Bailiff. More recently the role has again increased in importance as holders of the position, even those without legal qualifications, have been called on to preside over certain Court hearings (including uncontested divorces) requiring an administrative role, and also to stand in for the Bailiff and his deputy on some ceremonial occasions.
This is the most senior role to which anyone without a legal background can advance in Jersey, and is treated with considerable respect.
Juge-délégué is an appointment made after the death or removal from office of a Bailiff and before the appointment of a replacement to ensure the continuity of justice through the Royal Court. This appointment was originally made by the Jurats, usually choosing the most senior of their number. In later centuries the appointment was made by the States. Since the creation of the post of Deputy Bailiff the need for a Juge-délégué has disappeared.
From 1625 to 1826 the office of Bailiff passed from one member of the de Carteret family to another, none of them resident in Jersey. This made the office of Lieut-Bailiff all the more important, the holder being effectively in charge of the States of Jersey, Royal Court and the whole administration of the island. The reliance on the Lieut-Bailiff, to maintain continuity in the judicial system in the absence of a Bailiff, meant that second Lieut-Bailiffs and Juges-délégués had frequently to be appointed.