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Competition

The City Law Officers Essay Prize 2017 for London sixth form students

The prize is open to all sixth form students in the Greater London area who will be in Year 12 or 13 in the first week of October 2017.

Prizes

  1. £200 in book tokens and a week's work experience in the Comptroller & City Solicitor’s Department
  2. £100 in book tokens
  3. £50 in book tokens

Some additional 'commendation' prizes of a £25 book token will also be awarded. Winning essays will be made available online on the City of London website.

How to enter

Students should write an essay of between 1500 and 2000 words (excluding references) on the following topic:

"Judges have become too powerful. Discuss."

The schools or colleges of the contributors of the best ten essays will be notified in late September and invited to send a small group of students and a teacher to the Quit Rents Ceremony in October at the Royal Courts of Justice.

Rules

Please read these carefully before entering the competition

  • Entrants must be attending a school or sixth-form college within a London Borough or the City and be in either Year 12 or 13 in the first week of October 2017.
  • Entries must be between 1500 and 2000 words (excluding references). Word count must be stated on the entry. Words in excess of the maximum will not be taken into account. Entries must be the sole work of entrants.
  • Entries must be sent by email as a Word document to mary.ayling@cityoflondon.gov.uk before the closing date. Entries will be acknowledged. Late entries will not be permitted.
  • The Corporation shall be free to use and publish winning entries as it sees fit.
  • The Law Officers' decision as to the winners and the application of these rules is final. Feedback will be provided in relation to the top 10 entries only.

The City Law Officers' Essay Prize is an annual essay competition run by the City Law Officers and administered by the Comptroller & City Solicitor, developed at the request of the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd. It is intended to promote an interest in legal history and its place in modern society, as well as encouraging greater access and awareness of the ancient Quit Rents Ceremony for London sixth form students. It will also provide the winner with valuable work experience in the Comptroller and City Solicitor's Department.

The prize will be awarded to the best essay on a legal topic to be set and judged each year by the City Law Officers.

The City of London Corporation

The City of London Corporation is a uniquely diverse organisation. We have a special role and wide remit that goes beyond that of an ordinary local authority with three main aims:

  • to support and promote London as the world's leading international financial and business centre and attract new business to the capital and the whole UK
  • to work in partnership with local communities to increase skills, employment and opportunities for all Londoners, including through the City Bridge Trust
  • to enhance the capital as a hub of culture, history and green spaces for Londoners – residents, workers, and visitors.

The City Law Officers

The four City Law Officers are:

  • The Recorder of London
  • The Common Serjeant
  • The Comptroller & City Solicitor
  • The Remembrancer

The Recorder and Common Serjeant are judicial offices and they sit as Crown Court judges in the Old Bailey.

The Comptroller & City Solicitor administers the Corporation's rent rolls and provides operational legal services to the Corporation.

The Remembrancer serves as a channel of communication between the Corporation and the institutions of state, including reporting on Parliamentary proceedings and acting as Parliamentary Agent.

All four law officers advise the City Corporation on questions concerning its internal constitution, powers and duties.​

The Quit Rents Ceremony

​The annual Ceremony of the Rendering of the Quit Rents by the Corporation of London to the Queen's Remembrancer on behalf of the Crown, is an ancient, time-honoured and traditional Ceremony, which may be the oldest surviving Ceremony next to that of the Coronation itself.

It is feudal in origin and character since it represents the rendering of services in lieu of rent in respect of the tenure of two pieces of land, one being a piece of wasteland called 'The Moors' near Bridgnorth in Shropshire and the other being a Tenement called 'The Forge' in the Parish of St. Clement Danes, probably on land close to Tweezer's Alley off Milford Lane.

The services rendered by the original tenants of these pieces of land enabled them to avoid paying a money rent. This is why they are called Quit Rents, since thereby the tenant goes 'quit' and free of the normal obligation to pay money for his tenure of the land.

The Quit Rent in respect of 'The Moors', consists in the presentation of a blunt knife and a sharp knife. The qualities of these instruments are demonstrated by the Comptroller and Solicitor of the City of London who will bend a hazel rod of a cubits' length (one year's growth) over the blunt knife and break it over the blade of the sharp knife. Cubits varied in length but in this case it is the length between the Queen's Remembrancer's elbow and his forefinger - 19 inches.

Hazel rods were used as tallies to record payments made to the Court of Exchequer by notches made with a sharp knife along their length and split length-ways with a blunt and pliable bladed knife, one half being given to the payer as his receipt and the other half being retained by the Court to vouch its written records.

This Quit Rent has been rendered for over 750 years, the earliest recorded notice being in the Shropshire Sergeantcies in 1211, during the reign of King John, where it was recorded that the tenant was Nicola de More.

In respect of 'The Forge', the Quit Rent consists of six horseshoes and sixty-one nails which the Comptroller and City Solicitor count to demonstrate that the numbers are correct before rendering them to the Queen's Remembrancer on behalf of Her Majesty. These shoes are over nine inches wide. This Quit Rent has been rendered for over 700 years, the grant of the Forge having been made by Henry III and being first entered in the Great Roll of the Exchequer in 123S when a forge on the site was granted to an itinerant farrier, Walter le Brun.

The six horseshoes and the sixty-one nails themselves probably date from the 1360's. After being rendered to the Queen's Remembrancer, they are preserved in his Office and, with the permission of the Crown, they are loaned to the City Corporation to be rendered again the following year.

These ceremonies were formerly performed before the Cursitor Baron of the Court of Exchequer. When that Office was abolished in 1854, the Queen's Remembrancer took the place of the Baron (Judge) of that court and to signify the connection with the old Court of Exchequer he wears, on top of his full-bottomed wig, the tricorn hat of a Baron of the Court of Exchequer and the chequered cloth of the Court is spread out before him.

The Ceremony is nowadays combined with the presentation of the new Sheriffs of the City of London Corporation to the Queen's Remembrancer and the receipt by them of their Warrants signifying the Sovereign's approbation of their election.


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