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Court of Common Council in session

Governing bodies

The City of London operates through its Lord Mayor, Aldermen and other members of the Court of Common Council (equivalent to councillors and known as 'Common Councilmen').

The Court of Common Council

The Court of Common Council is the City of London's primary decision-making assembly, and meets every four weeks. It works through committees, like any other local authority, but it is unique in that it is non-party political. Its main business focuses on the reports of committees and members' questions and motions.

The Common Council is elected by the wards of the City every four years. Each ward returns between two and 10 members depending on the size of the electorate. Candidates, men or women, must be 21 or over, a British citizen (or of another European Union country) and a Freeman of the City of London. They must also either be registered to vote at any ward election or own freehold or leasehold land in the City or have lived in the City in the 12 months prior to the nomination date and intend to live there until the election date.

The Court of Aldermen

Aldermen have jurisdiction over their wards and for centuries each ward has elected one alderman. Upon admission to the Court of Aldermen, an alderman automatically becomes a Justice of the Peace for the City of London. They also serve on Common Council committees, act as governors and trustees of a variety of schools, hospitals, charitable foundations and trusts with ancient City connections.

Elections

The City is divided into 25 wards and 125 members are elected to represent them. Each ward elects one Alderman and two or more Common Councilmen, depending on its population, totalling 100 Common Councilmen and 25 Aldermen.

Full City-wide elections are held every four years with by-elections and aldermanic elections in between. Because the City has a relatively small number of residents, compared to City workers, it has two categories of voters: resident and business.

Members

Members take the major strategic decisions that direct the work of the City Corporation. They represent a wide range of professions and City interests. They are elected on a non-party political basis and are unpaid.

Members sit on a variety of committees - also open to the public - that manage the organisation’s different functions. There are two main types of committee – the first is made up of one member from each of the City’s 25 wards plus ex-officio members (membership due to holding a specific office or role); the second is made up members directly elected by the Court of Common Council plus ex officio members.

Find out more about...

Our chief executive

The Town Clerk, is head of the ‘paid service’ and is responsible for the organisation’s efficient management. The role also involves giving Members strategic advice on policy-related issues, drawing on the experience and expertise of the organisation as a whole.

More about
The Town Clerk and other key officers

Published:
12 March 2012
Last Modified:
29 May 2015
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