Summary Hearings

A Summary Hearing is a disciplinary process where an accused’s CO has jurisdiction to deal with a person under his command who is subject to service law (ie not a civilian). An accused who has a case allocated for SH has an unrestricted right to elect for trial before the Court Martial and if he consents to being dealt with by SH has a right to appeal both any finding or sentence to the Summary Appeal Court, which is an ECHR-compliant court akin to a Magistrates Court. The maximum sentence that can be imposed by a CO is 90 days military detention.

Summary Appeal Court (SAC)

The appeal court which hears all appeals against any finding or sentence imposed at Summary Hearings. It consists of two military officers and a Judge Advocate who decide all matters of fact and sentence together. They can quash/substitute findings imposed by the CO & cannot impose any punishment greater than the CO imposed at Summary Hearing. The SAC re-hears cases afresh.

Court Martial

This is a standing court and is similar in its sentencing powers and procedure to the civilian Crown Court. It has jurisdiction to try any Service offence. All persons subject to service law and civilians subject to Service discipline (some civilians serving in support of British forces overseas) may be tried by the Court Martial for all criminal conduct offences (ie all criminal offences under the law of England & Wales). In addition, persons subject to Service law may be tried by the Court Martial for all disciplinary offences, eg absence without leave, while civilians subject to Service discipline may be tried by the Court Martial for a restricted list of disciplinary offences. It can also deal with appeals from the Service Civilian Court.

Service Civilian Court

It consists of a Judge Advocate sitting alone trying cases. It has similar powers to a Magistrates Court and has jurisdiction to try civilians subject to Service discipline, (mainly dependants of Service personnel, including juveniles, serving abroad) for most criminal conduct offences and a restricted list of disciplinary offences. It can sit anywhere outside the UK. It has the power to try persons such as civilian contractors working in support of the British Armed Forces on operations, eg Afghanistan. Its maximum powers of punishment are 12 months imprisonment.

Court Martial Appeal Court

The appeal court from the Court Martial. It hears appeals from all cases tried by the Court Martial and is a separate division of the Criminal Appeal Court sitting at the Royal Courts of Justice, London. It has equivalent powers to the Criminal Appeal Court.