"The livery companies are integral to the City's governance: each year liverymen elect the Sheriffs of the City of London, endorse the election of the Lord Mayor and play a prominent part in major events."

The Constitution of the City of London Corporation differs from that of other municipalities in a number of ways. The voting rights of the Liverymen of the City Companies is perhaps the most striking example. 

Outside the City of London, councillors are elected by the local government electors, whilst the Mayor, who serves for one year, and Aldermen, who serve for four years, are elected by the Council. Sheriffs are appointed by the Crown. 

However, in the City of London, local government is exercised by the Court of Common Council, consisting of the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Common Councillors. Aldermen and Common Councillors are chosen by the electors of the twenty-five Wards of the City. The electors are the residents and individuals nominated by businesses in the City. The number of electors per business reflects the total number of employees based with that firm in the City office.

Although Aldermen are appointed to hold office for life, subject to surrender or disqualification, they now offer themselves for re-election every six years. By custom they retire at the age of 70, in line with the retirement age of Magistrates (Aldermen were previously all JPs). Common Councilmen face Ward elections every four years with the next being in March 2021.

The Lord Mayor, Sheriffs, and certain officers, however, are chosen each year by another electoral body, consisting of the liverymen of the City’s Livery Companies, known as Common Hall. There are 110 Livery Companies having some 30,000 liverymen, making this the largest gathering of citizens for any municipal purpose. 

Alderman and PM Alison Gowman explains more about how the City of London works.

Or read her fascinating City articles.