The current High Sheriff is responsible for nominating a successor, usually four to five years in advance. In recent history it has been the duty of the High Sheriff to nominate a successor, the office was passed between friends and acquaintances. But in 2008, the Justice Selection Committee of the House of Commons identified that a more modern and open process of nomination was needed through a Nominations Panel in each county.
The Nominations panel comprises of a minimum of 7 independent members and should be made up of a good mix of those connected with the current Shrievalty and representatives of the broader community and include a good gender balance and an appropriate minority representation.
The panel assist High Sheriffs in identifying suitably experienced and public spirited individuals prepared to take on what can often be a highly time-demanding role. The Office of High Sheriff is carried out on a wholly voluntary basis with no part of the expense incurred by the High Sheriff falling on the public purse. Possible candidates can be suggested by all panel members as assist the current High Sheriff with their duty to nominate a successor. Meetings are the platform for the current High Sheriff to substantiate why their candidate is best for the role, and to secure panel approval.
It is important to note that there is no bar to any suitable person becoming a High Sheriff, whether it be from social standing, sex, colour, or creed.
In the autumn meeting of the Nominations Panel, the High Sheriff will seek approval for their nomination, and once secured, the High Sheriff informs the Lord-Lieutenant of their choice. Once the Lord-Lieutenant has approved the nomination, and a candidate has accepted a nomination the High Sheriff via the Under-Sheriff submits the nomination form to The Chief Clerk to the King’s Remembrancer at The Royal Courts of Justice. This must be submitted by January and the name remains undisclosed at this stage.
Once a year, on 12th November or the closest working day to that date, the names of all the High Sheriffs in nomination are read out by the King’s Remembrancer in the Court of the Lord Chief Justice in the Royal Courts of Justice, Strand, London. Presiding at that ceremony are the Lord Chief Justice and two other Privy Councillors. So each November, the name of the person nominated to be High Sheriff in 3 years time is revealed. The names of all those nominated are published in the London Gazette and announced in the Court Circular columns of the press and they are known as a High Sheriff’s in Nomination.
Subsequently, the selection of new High Sheriffs is made annually in March, when the traditional custom of the Sovereign ‘pricking’ the appointee’s name with a bodkin is perpetuated. Eligibility for nomination and appointment of High Sheriffs excludes Peers of Parliament and Members of the House of Commons, and, by extension, Members of the Welsh Assembly, full-time members of the Judiciary including Tribunal Judges, and Officers of the Royal Navy, Army or Royal Air Force on full pay. These provisions reflect the essential requirement that the Office of High Sheriff is a non-political appointment.
The High Sheriff takes up appointment with the making of a sworn declaration in terms set out by the Sheriffs Act 1887, preferably using the revised 2020 version of the declaration as approved by the King’s Remembrancer and with the consent of His Majesty, before a High Court Judge or Justice of the Peace. The appointment is for one year only and it is customary for the declaration to be made before the end of April each year. For a new appointee not to give prompt effect to His Majesty’s wishes would not be an appropriate interpretation of the Act