The City of London Corporation is the local government authority for the City. It is similar to a County Council, although its powers and responsibilities are more extensive than any other County or City authority in the UK. Until 2006 the City of London Corporation was known (in an informal manner) as The Corporation of London, although the legal title remains the Mayor and Commonality and Citizens of the City of London. In this context the word ‘Citizen’ strictly means a Freeman of the City of London, and the ‘Commonality' implies the members of the Court of Common Council.
The professional head of the City of London Corporation is known as the Town Clerk, and is the most senior salaried employee, in effect the Chief Executive Officer. Other senior officers include the Chamberlain (Chief Finance Officer), The Recorder (a senior legal and ceremonial officer) and The Remembrancer who is responsible for the City’s relationship with Parliament and central government.
The deliberative body of the City of London is the Court of Common Council, comprising the Lord Mayor and other Aldermen, and the Common Councilmen. The Court of Common Council meets in full session nine times a year in Guildhall. Much of the work of the Court of Common Council is conducted in committee meetings that deal with the detail of policy making.
The City of London Corporation has many unique characteristics that set it apart from other local authorities in the United Kingdom. An exhaustive list of the rights and powers of the Corporation are far beyond the scope of this website, but the more important aspects are:
- The City can amend or alter its own constitution
- The City can set its own business rate
- The City is the Police Authority for the City of London
- The City runs the Central Criminal Court (i.e., The Old Bailey)
- The City is the Port Health Authority for London
The Corporation is often confused with the regulatory authorities for the financial services industry, especially when some misdeed by persons working for a bank or other financial institution is revealed by the press and media. While it is certainly the case that the Corporation is business friendly and the Lord Mayor has a role to promote the financial and professional services (law, accountancy, information technology) industries overseas, the Corporation is not a regulatory body for any aspect of these industries. Some journalist with creative imaginations have even reported that the Corporation is in the pay of the banks, an fantasy easily disproven by a quick examination of verifiable facts such as the absence of any salary, bonus or expenses for Common Councilmen, Aldermen or the Lord Mayor.