Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Army Legal Services Branch

Army Legal Services Branch

Cap Badge of the former Army Legal Corps
Active1978, 1992 within AGC
CountryUnited Kingdom
BranchBritish Army
SizeApprox. 120 Commissioned Officers
Part ofAdjutant General's Corps
Garrison/HQUxbridge and Bielefeld
MottoJustitia in Armis
MarchScales of Justice
Colonel of

the Regiment
Major-General D. M. Howell OBE

The Army Legal Services Branch (ALS) is a branch of the Adjutant-General's Corps (AGC) in the British Army. Before 1992, the branch existed as the independent Army Legal Corps (ALC).

The ALS consists only of commissioned officers (currently about 120), all of them either qualified solicitors, barristers or advocates. The head of the corps is the Director of Army Legal Services, a Major-General who is also the Army Prosecuting Authority. The members of the corps provide legal advice to the Army as an organisation and to individual officers and soldiers and also prosecute at courts martial.


[edit] History

The Army Legal Staff received full corps status as the Army Legal Corps on 1 November 1978. It was always the smallest corps in the Army. On 6 April 1992, the corps became the Army Legal Services Branch of the Adjutant General's Corps, but retains a separate identity and its own cap badge.

The corps motto was Justitia in Armis and the regimental march was Scales of Justice, both of which are retained by the Army Legal Services Branch.

[edit] Structure

The current Director of Legal Services is Major-General D. M. Howell OBE. Beneath him there are three Brigadiers, currently Brigadier A. Paphiti, Brigadier P. McEvoy OBE and Brigadier S. Vowles CBE. Beneath the Brigadiers, there are eight Colonels, 38 Lieutenant-Colonels, and an equal amount of Majors and Captains.

[edit] Areas of expertise

[edit] The Army Prosecuting Authority

The Army Prosecuting Authority (APA) is based at Uxbridge in Middlesex but also has an office at Bielefeld in Germany. The mission of the APA is: "Under the day to day management of Brigadier Prosecutions [Brigadier Vowles], and independent of the chain of command, prosecuting officers of the Army Prosecuting Authority will determine whether cases referred to them by the chain of command should be directed for trial and will prosecute before military courts those cases which have been so directed. They may provide advice to police forces on matters concerning the prosecution of offences and will represent the Crown as respondent to appeals before Summary Appeal Courts and the Courts-Martial Appeal Court."

[edit] Advisory Branch

The Advisory Branch of ALS advises the chain of command on a wide variety of administrative, operational and criminal law issues. There are advisory Officers in every major Army HQ around the world. Typically they advise on matters including: whether COs should initiate disciplinary procedures for soldiers, Boards of Inquiry, whether administrative action should be taken against those suspected of breaching the Army's values and standards, how the Army should deal with grievances and other employment law related issues, delivering training on disciplinary/administrative processes and on emerging Army policies. Advisory branch Officers often work directly with the Army’s most senior commanders.

In addition within the Advisory branch there are ALS Officers specialising in particular areas such as specialist employment law, primary and subordinate legislation drafting and the drafting and editing of key documents such as the Manual of Military Law and Queen's Regulations.

[edit] Operational Law

When the British Army deploys on operations it takes legal advisors with it. When deployed on operations ALS Officers are often asked to advise on the most sensitive issues, as well as on international law and often on the local law of the country concerned. All army commanders at every level have access to legal advice from ALS Officers and this commitment is increasing all the time both in terms of deployments but also in terms of supporting the Army's pre-deployment training requirements. ALS Operational Law branch Officers are also often attached to the operations of NATO and the UN.

Also, within the Operational Law is the specialist International Law branch of ALS which is located in MOD and is engaged in higher level issues including advising on the Army's interest in the drafting of certain treaties and negotiating and drafting Status of Forces Agreements with other states.

[edit] Army Legal Assistance

The headquarters of Army Legal Assistance (ALA) is currently located at Catterick Barracks, Bielefeld in Germany. This branch provides legal assistance and advice to entitled servicemen and dependants worldwide.

The principle governing the services provided by ALA is that whilst serving overseas servicemen and their dependants are not able to obtain from civilian solicitors legal advice and assistance on their personal legal problems, and ALA exists to provide this service instead. ALA is a free service, but applicants must fund any court or other fixed costs such as divorce fees themselves.

[edit] Career structure

New ALS officers are commissioned as Captains on a Short Service Commission of four years and 210 days, the first year of which is probationary. This can be extended up to eight years, subject to satisfactory performance. If the commission is confirmed, an officer can apply, subject to having obtained two consecutive annual reports recommending conversion of commission, to convert to an Intermediate Regular Commission (IRC). If an officer obtains an IRC then that commission will allow them to serve up to their eighteen-year point. Once an officer has obtained an IRC then, again subject to obtaining the required recommendations in annual reports, they may apply for conversion to a Regular Commission. If granted, this will allow the officer to serve to the age of 60 or for a total of 34 years from the date of commissioning.

All Legal Officers are commissioned in the rank of Captain and are promoted based on annual reports. Subject to suitability, a Legal Officer may be promoted to the substantive rank of Major after six years' service, although it is not uncommon for ALS officers to be promoted to Acting Major rank earlier than the six year point. Once they are a substantive Major, an officer is eligible for promotion to substantive Lieutenant-Colonel after a further six years' service (subject to recommendations), although again it is not uncommon for ALS officers to be promoted to Acting Lieutenant-Colonel rank earlier. Promotion beyond these ranks is by selection on merit.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

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