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Armed Forces Act 2006

Section 12: Disobedience to lawful commands

67.Obedience to lawful commands is central to service discipline. A person who is subject to service law and intentionally or recklessly disobeys a lawful command commits an offence. A command in the armed forces means any order apart from routine and standing orders, which are dealt with in section 13. A person who is negligent in carrying out a command (by failing, for example, to consider what the order really meant) does not commit an offence under this section. There is a separate offence which applies to negligent breaches of duty (section 15).

68.An order must be lawful; an order to do something which would amount to a crime, for example, would not be lawful.

69.The maximum penalty for this offence is ten years’ imprisonment, which reflects the fact that obedience to some commands may be vital to the success of an operation. (This may be contrasted with the maximum penalty of two years’ imprisonment for contravening standing orders, which are more routine in character.)

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