A review committee due to make its first set of recommendations to the Secretary of State for Defence in August is asking for input from any barrister or legal practitioner with experience of the military courts.
Committee member, solicitor-advocate Justin Hugheston Roberts said that, while the rules may have been reviewed before from within the military, there had “never before been an opportunity for external input.
“Any practitioner who has had dealings with the military court system now has a chance to say that they think a rule doesn’t work or should be changed. This is the very first time that all agencies have been involved in a review.
“We will be looking at all aspects of the rules, and how they affect civilians and service personnel. This applies not just to Courts Martial, but to the Summary Appeal Court and the Service Civilian Court.
“If the wife or husband of a serviceperson serving in Cyprus is accused of assault then they will be dealt with by the military court system as a spouse of a serving member of the military.”
The five-member Service Court Rules Review Committee, which launched shortly before the end of 2010, will meet four times a year and sees the review as an ongoing process. It is chaired by Judge Blackett, the Judge Advocate General, and comprises Bruce Houlder QC, the director of service prosecutions, a senior MoD civil servant, a senior military figure and Hugheston Roberts, who has prosecuted and defended military cases.
The rules relate to the constitution and membership of courts, procedural matters such as preliminary proceedings, arraignment and power to bring persons before the court, rules of evidence and trial procedure. They cover essential elements of the system such as the number of military personnel required to sit.
Barristers who wish to contribute to the review are asked to send them in writing to firstname.lastname@example.org
by 21 April 2011.