Courts‐Martial (Appeals) Act, 1951

DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-2230.1952.tb02111.x
Publication Date01 Jan 1952
AuthorJ. A. G. Griffith
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COURTS-MARTIAL (APPEALS) ACT,
1051
Tim Act deals with two matters: Part
I
provides for appeals from
courts-martial and Part
I1
makes changes in the method of appoint-
ment, qualifications, tenure
of
office, salarics and pensions of the
Judge Advocate Gcncral and his assistants. The Act'applies to the
three branches of the forces with unimportant diffcrcnces and this
note ignores the special provisions relating to the Royal Navy.
A Courts-Martial Appeal Court is set up. Its judges are (a) the
L.C.J.
and the puisne judges of the High Court, (b) Lords Com-
missioners of Justiciary nominated by the Lord Justice General,
(c) judges
of
the High Court in Northern Ireland nominated by the
L.C.J.
of Northern Ircland, (d) other persons,
of
legal experience
appointed by the Lord Chancellor. The court, which may sit
in
two
or
more divisions, is duly constituted if it consists of an uneven
number
of
judges, not being less than three. When the court is
sitting in the United Kingdom, at least one member must be drawn
from
(a),
(b)
or
(c) above; the Lord Chancellor may waive this
requirement when the court'is sitting elsewhere. Majority opinions
prevail.
Under the procedure previous to this Act, there were three types
of review of a court-mirtial finding of guilty. First, there was the
review by the higher military authority which decided whether
or
not to confirm. Secondly, there was the review by the J.A.G.
who was concerned primarily to see that the trial had been properly
conducted. Thirdly, the prisoner could petition His Majesty for
mercy asking for reduction
of
the scntence
or
for quashing the sen-
tence. The Lewis Committee, whose recommendations (Cmd.
7008)
were considered in Vol.
12
of
this
Review
(at p.
223),
suggested
that a courts-martial appeal court should be substituted
for
the
confirmation and for the review by the J.A.G. The Act, however,
keeps the earligr types of revicw and adds the ncw court as a fourth
stage. Except in the case
of
a conviction involving sentence
of
death; the right of appeal to the ncw court is not exercisable unless
the prisoner, within a prescribed period, first petitions the Admiralty
or
the Secretary of State praying that his conviction be quashed
and either the petition is not granted
or
a further period elapses.
The court has, in any case, the right to rcfuse leave to appeal and
must, in considering whcther
or
not to refuse leave, have regard
to any expression
of
opinion made by the
J.A.G.
that the case
is a
fit
one for appeal.
The Lewis Committee recommended that appeals should be on
questions of law alone
but
the Act makes no such limitation. The
I
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\'or,.
15
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