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A deemster (Manx: briw) is a judge in the Isle of Man. The High Court of Justice of the Isle of Man is presided over by a deemster or, in the case of the appeal division of that court, a deemster and the Judge of Appeal. The deemsters also promulgate the Laws on Tynwald Day by reading them out to the people in English and Manx.

In the past, the First and Second Deemsters had ex officio seats in the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man. The Second Deemster was removed from the Council in 1965[1] and the First Deemster in 1975.[2]

There are currently (2017) three full-time Deemsters. These are the First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls (who is also the Deputy Governor), the Second Deemster, and an additional full-time Deemster. The offices of First Deemster, Second Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls are ancient offices. The offices of First Deemster and Clerk of the Rolls were combined in 1918,[3] and a new office of Deputy Deemster was created in 2002[4] but abolished in 2009.[5] Additional deemsters, full-time or part-time, may now be appointed; the present full-time additional deemster previously held the office of Deputy Deemster, and additional part-time deemsters (previously called 'Acting Deemsters') are appointed from time to time to hear a particular case.

The current (2017) Deemsters are:

The First Deemster, Second Deemster and Judge of Appeal are appointed by, and hold office during the pleasure of, the Lord of Mann,[6] (acting on the advice of the UK's Secretary of State for Justice). Additional Deemsters are appointed by the Lieutenant Governor on the recommendation of the First Deemster.[7] As ex officio Deputy Governor, the First Deemster acts in place of the Lieutenant Governor in the latter's absence, or during a vacancy in that office.

Unlike judges in the United Kingdom, Deemsters have no security of tenure and thus have no legal protection against dismissal by the government. The process whereby the appointment and removal of Manx judges occur on the formal advice of United Kingdom politicians is seen as an effective alternative.

List of Deemsters[edit]

Owing to a lack of early records, the list cannot record any Deemsters before 1408, and is therefore not necessarily complete for the earlier years. The dates given are those for the first appearance of a name in the records, although the person may have been in office for some time previously. The list has been compiled from the Liber Juramentorum, the Isle of Man Statutes with additional names from the archive of David Craine, M.B.E., M.A., C.P.[8]

First Deemsters[edit]


First Deemsters and Clerks of the Rolls[edit]

Second Deemsters[edit]

Criminal Deemster[edit]

Deputy Deemsters[edit]

In fiction[edit]

One of the main characters in Alfred Hitchcock 1929 drama film "The Manxman" is the Deemster, and his holding this position is of central importance to the film's plot. The film is based on the 1894 novel of the same name by the Manx writer Hall Caine, who published another novel with a similar theme with the title The Deemster (1887).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1965
  2. ^ Isle of Man Constitution (Amendment) Act 1975
  3. ^ Judicature (Amendment) Act 1918; see now High Court Act 1991 s.3A(6).
  4. ^ Civil Jurisdiction Act 2001 s.7
  5. ^ Administration of Justice Act 2008
  6. ^ High Court Act 1991 s.3A
  7. ^ High Court Act 1991 s.3B
  8. ^ Journal of The Manx Museum, Sunday, January 01, 1961; Page: 42
  9. ^ Journal of The Manx Museum, Sunday, January 01, 1961; Page: 42

External links[edit]