British Islands

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

British Islands
A map of the British Islands
A map showing the areas referred to as the British Islands shaded red
LocationNorth-western Europe
Coordinates54°N 4°W / 54°N 4°W / 54; -4Coordinates: 54°N 4°W / 54°N 4°W / 54; -4
Adjacent toAtlantic Ocean, North Sea
Total islands6,000+
Highest elevation1,345 m (4413 ft)
Highest pointBen Nevis[citation needed]
Capital and largest settlementSaint Peter Port
Area covered78 km2 (30 sq mi)
Capital and largest settlementSaint Helier
Area covered118 km2 (46 sq mi)
Capital and largest settlementDouglas
Area covered572 km2 (221 sq mi)
Capital and largest cityLondon
Area covered244,111 km2 (94,252 sq mi)
LanguagesAuregnais, Cornish, English, French, Guernésiais, Irish, Jèrriais, Manx, Scots, Scottish Gaelic, Sercquiais, Shelta, Ulster-Scots, Welsh
Additional information
Time zone
 • Summer (DST)
Drives on theleft

The British Islands[1] is a term within the law of the United Kingdom which refers collectively to the following four polities:

The Isle of Man and the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey are Crown Dependencies and are not a part of the United Kingdom. The Parliament of the United Kingdom on occasions introduces legislation that is extended to the islands, normally by the use of Orders in Council. For this reason it has been found useful to have a collective term for the combined territories. A statutory definition can be found in Schedule 1 of the Interpretation Act 1978.[3]

The term The United Kingdom and the Islands is used in the Immigration Act 1971.[4]

Statutory definition[edit]

Section 5 of the Interpretation Act 1978 provides that "in any Act, unless the contrary intention appears" the expression "British Islands" is to be construed according to Schedule 1 of that Act, which contains the following paragraph:

"British Islands" means the United Kingdom, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Subject to paragraph 4(2) of Schedule 2, that paragraph of Schedule 1 applies, so far as applicable, to Acts passed after the year 1889.[5]

Paragraph 4(2) provides:

The definition of "British Islands", in its application to Acts passed after the establishment of the Irish Free State but before the commencement of this Act, includes the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish Free State was established on 6 December 1922 and the Interpretation Act 1978 came into force on 1 January 1979.

The Interpretation Act 1978 applies to itself and to any Act passed after the commencement of that Act and, to the extent specified in Part I of Schedule 2, to Acts passed before the commencement of that Act.[6]

This definition of "British Islands" does not include the British Overseas Territories.[7]


The expression "British Islands" was formerly defined by section 18(1) of the Interpretation Act 1889.[8] This definition applied to the Interpretation Act 1889 itself, and to every Act passed after the commencement of that Act on 1 January 1890.[9]

Section 19 of the Lloyd's Signal Stations Act 1888 contained a definition of "British Islands".[10] The Lloyd's Signal Stations Act 1888 was repealed by the Lloyd's Act 1982.

Colonial statutes

Section 5(2) of the Interpretation Ordinance, 1891 of British Guiana contained a definition of "British Islands".[11]

Section 2 of the Interpretation Ordinance (c 2) (1953) of British Honduras contained a definition of "British Islands".[12]

Section 28(ii) of the Interpretation and Common Form Ordinance, 1903 of the Seychelles contained a definition of "British Islands".[13]


Section 13(3)[14] of the Foreign and Colonial Parcel Post Warrant 1897 (SR & O 1897/721) and section 6(2)[15] of the Foreign and Colonial Post (Insured Boxes) Warrant 1908 (SR & O 1908/1313) refer to "the law of the British Islands".


Inland postal packets[edit]

Section 62(16)[16] of the Inland Post Warrant 1936 (SR & O 1936/618) defined the expression "Inland" in terms of the British Islands.

Inland bills[edit]

The definition of "inland bill" in section 4(1) of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882 refers to the British Islands.


Section 26(1)(a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 states:[17][18]

"Information is exempt information if its disclosure under this Act would, or would be likely to, prejudice the defence of the British Islands"


The exclusive fishery limits of the British Islands were defined by section 28 of the Sea Fisheries Act 1883. This definition was repealed by Schedule 2 to the Fishery Limits Act 1964.

The fishery limits of the British Islands were defined by section 1(1) of the Fishery Limits Act 1964. This provision was repealed by the Fishery Limits Act 1976.


Piggott said the effect of section 37 of the Fugitive Offenders Act 1881 was to make of the British Islands one coherent whole for the purposes of that Act.[19] That Act was repealed by Schedule 2 to the Fugitive Offenders Act 1967.


The expression "British Islands" has been included on the covers of passports of the Isle of Man, passports of Guernsey and passports of Jersey.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Ingram, Alex (12 October 2020). "A Glance at Daily Life Among the Caretakers of Britain's Small Islands". New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020.
  2. ^ "British Islands Bats". Bat Conservation Trust. Archived from the original on 21 November 2020.
  3. ^ Everett-Heath, John (2020). British Islands. Oxford Reference. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-190563-6. Archived from the original on 18 December 2021.
  4. ^ "Opinion of Mr Advocate General La Pergola delivered on 23 September 1997. - Rui Alberto Pereira Roque v His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey. - Reference for a preliminary ruling: Royal Court of Jersey. - Freedom of movement for persons - 1972 Act of Accession - Protocol No 3 on the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man - Jersey. - Case C-171/96". General Court (European Union). 1998. Archived from the original on 18 December 2021.
  5. ^ The Interpretation Act 1978, Schedule 2, paragraph 4(1)
  6. ^ The Interpretation Act 1978, section 22(1)
  7. ^ Ian Hendry and Susan Dickson. British Overseas Territories Law. Second Edition. Hart Publishing. 2018. Page 6.
  8. ^ For a printed copy, see The Public General Acts [52 & 53 Vict], HMSO, p 336.
  9. ^ The Interpretation Act 1889, sections 18 and 42
  10. ^ For a printed copy, see The Law Reports, Public General Statutes, 1888. p 185.
  11. ^ For a printed copy, see The Laws of British Guiana, vol 3, OUP, 1895, p 738.
  12. ^ For a printed copy, see Henriques. The Laws of British Honduras in force on the 15th Day of September, 1958. 1960. vol 1. p 11.
  13. ^ Rind, The Laws of Seychelles Revised, 1907, vol 3, p 1529.
  14. ^ Statutory Rules and Orders . . . 1897. p 552.
  15. ^ The Statutory Rules and Orders of a Public and General character issued during 1908, p 717.
  16. ^ Statutory Rules and Orders . . . 1936. HMSO. 1937. vol 2. p 2075.
  17. ^ For further commentary, see Wadham, Harris and Peretz. Blackstone's Guide to the Freedom of Information Act 2000. 4th Ed. OUP. 2011. p 119. Philip Coppel. Information Rights: Law and Practice. 4th Ed. Hart Publishing. 2014. Paras 17-072 & 17-075 at pp 641, 642 & 644 et seq.
  18. ^ "Freedom of Information Act 2000". Freedom of Information Act 2000. 20 July 2022.
  19. ^ Francis Taylor Piggott. Extradition: A Treatise on the Law Relating to Fugitive Offenders. Butterworth & Co. London. Kelly & Walsh. Shanghai, Singapore and Yokohama. 1910. p 277.
  20. ^ Treaty Series. United Nations. 2000. Volume 1648. Pages 382 and 386. House of Commons Justice Committee. Crown Dependencies. Session 2009 to 2010. Eighth Report. (HC 56). Volume 2. Ev 36, para 22. Jersey and Guernsey passports to be printed in the UK. BBC News. 11 November 2013. Manx passport change 'two years away'. BBC News. 27 August 2010.


  • Stroud's Judicial Dictionary.
    • Frederick Stroud. "British Islands". The Judicial Dictionary. First Edition. 1890. p 90: [1] [2]. See also "Inland" at p 391.
  • John B Saunders (ed). "British Islands". Words and Phrases Legally Defined. Second Edition. Butterworths. 1969. Volume 1. Page 187. See also pages 8 and 278.
  • Words and Phrases Legally Defined. Fourth Edition. 2007. Volume 1. Pages 7, 84, 192 and 280.
  • Kenneth Roberts-Wray. Commonwealth and Colonial Law. Frederick A Praeger. 1966. Pages 31, 33 to 37, 40, 72, 363, 428, 533, 663 et seq.
  • Hilaire Barnett. Constitutional & Administrative Law. Fourth Edition. Cavendish Publishing Limited. 2002. Pages 64 to 66. Tenth Edition. Routledge. 2013. Pages 16 to 18. See also page 531.
  • A W Bradley and K D Ewing. Constitutional and Administrative Law. Fourteenth Edition. Pearson Education Limited. (Pearson Longman). 2007. Page 35.
  • Knapp (ed). "The British Islands". International Enclopedia of Comparative Law. Mouton. The Hague. Mohr. Tubingen. 1976. Volume 1. National Reports: U. Appendix. Page U-103 et seq.
  • Kenneth R Simmonds, "The British Islands and the Community: I–Jersey" (1969) 6 Common Market Law Review 156
  • Kenneth R Simmonds, "The British Islands and the Community: II—The Isle of Man" (1970) 7 Common Market Law Review 454
  • Kenneth R Simmonds, "The British Islands and the Community: III Guernsey" (1971) 8 Common Market Law Review 475
  • Tony Wright (ed). The British Political Process: An Introduction. Routledge. London and New York. 2000. Page 19: [3] [4].
  • Paul Rylance. Writing and Drafting in Legal Practice. Oxford University Press. 2012. Paragraph 28.4.2 at page 243.
  • Burnand, Burnett Hall, Boland and Watts (eds). The Annual Practice 1949. (66th Annual Issue). Sweet & Maxwell. Stevens and Sons. Butterworth & Co. London. Volume 2. Page 3214.

External links[edit]