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Military Law

Court-Martial and Military Procedure

Court-Martial and Military Procedure

What follows is a brief outline of the procedure. It is for information only and you should take specific legal advice in relation to your own case. 
It is essential that legal advice is sought from those who understand professional standards and values and the chain of command. As soon as you become aware that such a process is to be initiated, you should seek immediate legal advice as time limits are tight.
The team at Levales has extensive knowledge and experience in this area, and will be able to assist you at very short notice. Get in touch with our team today for bespoke guidance for your circumstances. 

What is AGAI? 

Major AGAI Action (MAA), or AGAI 67 as it is often called, is the disciplinary system used by the chain of command to sanction conduct that breaches professional standards and values but which falls short of amounting to a discipline offence or criminal conduct. This process should not be used in addition to, or instead of, discipline or criminal offences if the latter are alleged. 

Can I get legal representation?

Legal representation is not allowed in any hearing before an Originating Officer (OO) or Deciding Officer (DO) unless the DO directs that there should be an Oral Hearing, in which case you may have legal assistance at the DO’s discretion. However, between the hearings before the OO and DO, you can make written representations and there is nothing stopping you seeking legal advice at this stage to assist you with preparing those representations. 

Military Law

Court-Martial & Military Procedure Lawyers based in Aldershot, serving clients worldwide

Speak with a member of our specialist team for fast and reliable advice. 

  • What is a Summary Hearing?

    This is a hearing before the commanding officer. If the CO has the power to determine the case, and the service person has not elected court-martial where that option is available, he will hear the case and make a finding and, if guilty, move to punishment. There is no entitlement to legal representation at such a hearing. There is an automatic right of appeal from the summary court to a court martial.

  • What is a Summary Appeal Court?

    If a service person is unhappy with the finding and/or punishment of a summary hearing, he or she may appeal to the Summary Appeal Court. At this stage there is an entitlement to be legally represented and the SAC cannot increase the punishment awarded by the CO.

  • Court-Martial

    If the CO declines to deal with the case or, in cases where the option is available, the service person elects trial by Court-Martial, the case will be heard by a Court-Martial. A Court-Martial is the Military equivalent of a civilian Crown Court. At this stage, service persons will be given the opportunity to apply for legal aid. 
    Please contact us if you are unsure about whether to apply for legal aid and we can provide further information about the process. It does not matter if you were represented by another firm during the investigation, you can still choose a different solicitor prior to applying for Legal Aid.
    It does not matter if you were represented by another firm during the investigation you can still choose a different solicitor prior to applying for Legal Aid.

Preliminary Hearing

This is the first hearing in the Court-Martial trial process when a defendant will enter his or her pleas and the Judge Advocate will give directions as to the future conduct of the case. If there is a not guilty plea, the case will be adjourned for a trial (see Trial below). If there is a guilty plea, the case will be adjourned for sentencing (see Sentencing below).

  • Trial

    This is the Court-Martial trial. The prosecution and defence call evidence by way of witnesses to put their case. The Board of officers and Senior Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCO’s) decide the case on the facts and the Judge advises and rules on all matters of law. The number of members on the Board is determined by the offence they are trying.

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    Sentencing will take place in the Court-Martial after a guilty plea or after conviction following a trial with the Judge Advocate and Board sitting together. The word sentence is used to cover any punishment given by the court, be it a financial penalty, a community order or a custodial sentence. Custodial sentences include imprisonment or detention and can be immediate or suspended.

    The Board will also consider whether or not to discharge. Credit (i.e. reduction) in any sentence imposed will be given to defendants who plead guilty with maximum credit being given to those that plead guilty at the earliest opportunity. Each offence carries a maximum term but individual sentences for each offence are not discussed here due to advice being required on an individual basis.