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Armed Forces Act 1996

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Commencement Orders bringing legislation that affects this Act into force:

Army Act 1955 (c. 18)E+W+S+N.I.

1The Army Act 1955 shall be amended as follows.E+W+S+N.I.

2For section 76 there shall be substituted the following sections—E+W+S+N.I.

76 Investigation of charges by commanding officer

(1)An allegation that a person subject to military law (“the accused") has committed an offence against any provision of this Part of this Act shall be reported, in the form of a charge, to his commanding officer.

(2)A commanding officer shall investigate a charge reported to him under subsection (1) above.

(3)If, in the course of investigating a charge, the commanding officer considers it appropriate to do so, he may amend the charge or substitute another charge for it and treat the amended or substituted charge as if that charge had been reported to him under subsection (1) above.

(4)If, in the course of investigating a charge, it appears to the commanding officer that proceedings in respect of the matters to which the charge relates could be, and in the interests of the better administration of justice should be, taken against the accused otherwise than under this Act he may stay further proceedings with respect to the charge.

(5)After investigating a charge the commanding officer may, subject to subsection (6) below—

(a)dismiss the charge;

(b)refer the charge to higher authority; or

(c)deal summarily with the charge.

(6)The commanding officer may not deal summarily with a charge if—

(a)the accused is an officer or warrant officer; or

(b)the charge is not capable of being dealt with summarily.

(7)This section has effect subject to any power of the commanding officer under section 103A(1) below to direct that the charge be tried by a field general court-martial.

76A Powers of higher authority.

(1)Where a charge is referred to higher authority, the higher authority shall refer the case to the prosecuting authority unless he takes one of the steps mentioned in this section in relation to the charge.

(2)The higher authority may refer the charge back to the commanding officer of the accused with a direction to dismiss it or to stay all further proceedings in relation to it, and the commanding officer shall deal with the charge accordingly.

(3)If the charge is against a non-commissioned officer or soldier and is capable of being dealt with summarily, the higher authority may refer it back to the commanding officer of the accused to be so dealt with.

(4)If the charge is against an officer below the rank of lieutenant-colonel or a warrant officer and is capable of being dealt with summarily, the higher authority may refer it to the appropriate superior authority to be so dealt with.

(5)If the charge has been referred to the higher authority as a result of an election for court-martial trial, and that election has not been withdrawn with leave, he may not refer the charge back to the commanding officer of the accused, or (as the case may be) to the appropriate superior authority, to be dealt with summarily.

(6)This section has effect subject to any power of the higher authority under section 103A(1) below to direct that the charge be tried by a field general court-martial.

76B Summary dealings.

(1)This section applies where a charge is to be dealt with summarily by a commanding officer or appropriate superior authority.

(2)References in this Act to dealing summarily with a charge are references to the taking of the following action, namely, determining whether the charge is proved and, accordingly, either dismissing the charge or recording a finding that the charge has been proved and awarding punishment.

(3)If, before determining whether the charge is proved, he considers it appropriate to do so, the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority may amend the charge or substitute another charge for it and treat the amended or substituted charge as the charge to be dealt with summarily by him.

(4)If, before determining whether the charge is proved, he considers that it should not be dealt with summarily, the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority may refer the charge to higher authority.

(5)If he determines that the charge has been proved, the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority shall, before recording a finding that the charge has been proved, afford the accused an opportunity of electing court-martial trial.

(6)If the accused so elects, the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority shall refer the charge to higher authority with a view to the trial of the accused by court-martial.

(7)If the accused does not so elect, or so elects but subsequently withdraws his election with leave, the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority shall record a finding that the charge has been proved and award punishment accordingly.

(8)If a charge has been referred to higher authority as a result of an election for court-martial trial, and that election is withdrawn with leave, the higher authority shall—

(a)if the accused is an officer or warrant officer, refer the charge back to the appropriate superior authority;

(b)if the accused is a non-commissioned officer or soldier, refer the charge back to the commanding officer of the accused,

for the appropriate superior authority or commanding officer to record a finding that the charge has been proved and award punishment accordingly.

(9)This section has effect subject to any power of the commanding officer or appropriate superior authority under section 103A(1) below to direct that the charge be tried by a field general court-martial.

(10)Nothing in this section or section 76A above shall be taken to prevent an officer from acting as both higher authority and appropriate superior authority in relation to a charge.

76C Punishments available on summary dealings.

(1)This section applies where a commanding officer or appropriate superior authority records a finding that a charge against an accused has been proved.

(2)The commanding officer may award one or more of the following punishments—

(a)if the offender is a soldier, detention for a period not exceeding 60 days;

(b)fine;

(c)if the offender is a non-commissioned officer, severe reprimand or reprimand;

(d)where the offence has occasioned any expense, loss or damage, stoppages;

(e)any minor punishment for the time being authorised by the Defence Council.

(3)The appropriate superior authority may award one or more of the following punishments—

(a)except in the case of a warrant officer, forfeiture of seniority for a specified term or otherwise;

(b)fine;

(c)severe reprimand or reprimand;

(d)where the offence has occasioned any expense, loss or damage, stoppages.

(4)The commanding officer may not award a fine or minor punishment for an offence for which he awards detention.

(5)The appropriate superior authority may not award a fine for an offence for which he awards forfeiture of seniority.

(6)Except in the case of an offence against section 70 of this Act, the amount of a fine shall not exceed the amount of the offender’s pay for twenty-eight days.

(7)In the case of an offence against section 70 of this Act where the corresponding civil offence is a summary offence, the amount of a fine shall not exceed—

(a)the amount of the offender’s pay for twenty-eight days; or

(b)(if less) the maximum amount of the fine which could be imposed by a civil court on summary conviction.

(8)In the case of an offence against section 70 of this Act where the corresponding civil offence is an indictable offence, the amount of a fine shall not exceed—

(a)the amount of the offender’s pay for twenty-eight days; or

(b)(if less) the maximum amount of the fine which could be imposed by a civil court on conviction on indictment.

(9)A day’s pay shall be taken, for the purposes of subsections (6) to (8) above, to be the gross pay that is, or would (apart from any forfeiture) be, issuable to the offender in respect of the day on which punishment is awarded in respect of the offence.

(10)If the offender is a lance-corporal or lance-bombardier, the commanding officer may, if he awards no other punishment or no other punishment except stoppages, order the offender to be reduced to the ranks.

(11)If the offender is an acting warrant officer or non-commissioned officer, the commanding officer may, if he awards no other punishment or no other punishment except stoppages, order the offender—

(a)to revert to his permanent rank;

(b)to assume an acting rank lower than that held by him but higher than his permanent rank; or

(c)where his permanent rank is that of lance-corporal or lance-bombardier, to forfeit his acting rank and be reduced to the ranks.

3Sections 77 to 80 shall cease to have effect.E+W+S+N.I.

4(1)Section 82 (officers who are to act as commanding officers and appropriate superior authorities) shall be amended as follows.E+W+S+N.I.

(2)For subsection (2) there shall be substituted the following subsection—

(2)A person may act as appropriate superior authority in relation to a person charged with an offence if—

(a)he is a general officer, flag officer, air officer or brigadier, or

(b)where the Defence Council so direct, he is a colonel or a naval or air force officer of corresponding rank.

(3)Subsection (3) shall cease to have effect.

5For section 83 there shall be substituted the following section—E+W+S+N.I.

83 Regulations as to summary dealings etc.

(1)The Defence Council may make regulations with respect to the investigation of charges by commanding officers and summary dealings by commanding officers and appropriate superior authorities.

(2)Regulations under this section may in particular make provision with respect to—

(a)the reporting of a charge to a commanding officer;

(b)the procedure to be followed by a commanding officer investigating a charge;

(c)the delegation by the commanding officer of any of his functions;

(d)the charges which are capable of being dealt with summarily;

(e)the amendment or substitution of charges;

(f)the procedure on summary dealings;

(g)limitations on the punishments which may be awarded on a summary dealing by a commanding officer or appropriate superior authority of a specified description;

(h)the information to be provided to a person afforded an opportunity of electing court-martial trial;

(i)the procedure for electing court-martial trial, including any period within which any such election may be made;

(j)the procedure for requesting leave to withdraw an election for court-martial trial and for withdrawing any such election;

(k)who may act as the higher authority and the appropriate superior authority in specified descriptions of cases;

(l)who is to act as the higher authority and the appropriate superior authority in any particular case.

(3)A regulation under this section which is inconsistent with the provisions of this Act shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

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