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Armed Forces Act 2006

Section 155: Constitution of the Court Martial

319.This section provides for the membership of the court for Court Martial proceedings. In proceedings before the Court Martial there is to be a judge advocate, who shall be specified by or on behalf of the Judge Advocate General, and lay members who will be specified by or on behalf of the court administration officer. In most proceedings the required minimum number of lay members will be three. This is in recognition of the fact that the majority of cases that are dealt with by the Court Martial equate to those heard in the magistrates’ courts in England and Wales where the Bench is comprised of three lay members. However, for more serious cases the minimum required will be five. When the minimum is to increase to five will be set down in rules made under section 163. This section also provides for rules to be made that will set out when a judge advocate may direct the court administration officer to specify up to two additional members of the court. This will help to avoid trials collapsing if a lay member dropped out for some reason. Finally the rules will also be able to set down when a judge advocate may sit alone, for example, when arraigning a person or hearing arguments on the law.

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