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Armed Forces Act 2006

Section 311: Certification to civil courts

616.Subsection (1) provides that this section applies where a person does an act in relation to proceedings before a qualifying service court which would constitute contempt of court if the court were a civilian court with power to commit for contempt. This could include act which amounts to an offence under section 309, if the court chooses not to deal with the matter itself – because of the seriousness of the offence, for example.

617.In the above circumstances the service court may refer (“certify” is the term used in the Act) the offence to any civilian court which has power to commit for contempt, or, if the offence took place outside the UK, to the High Court. That civilian court may then inquire into the matter and deal with the offender under its own normal procedures. The Divisional Court of the Queen’s Bench Division, in the High Court, has a supervisory jurisdiction over inferior courts and in practice most serious forms of contempt will be referred to that court.

618.The power is similar to that provided for a number of other inferior courts and tribunals, for example the Data Protection Tribunal (section 6 of the Data Protection Act 1998).

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