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Procedures at Courts Martial

Procedure at Courts Martial

The practice and procedure of Courts-Martial is laid down in the Court-Martial Rules 2008 (SI No 205 of 2008). The accused person at a Court-Martial may be represented by a civilian lawyer(s) of his own choice, or by a commissioned officer of the Defence Forces (known as a “Defending Officer”) who may or may not be a qualified lawyer. Legal Aid may be granted to an accused person on application to the Summary Court-Martial in accordance with the provisions of the Courts-Martial Appeals Act 1983 (as amended) and the Courts-Martial (Legal Aid) Regulations 2008 (SI No 206 of 2008). The Prosecutor at a Court-Martial is usually a commissioned officer of the Permanent Defence Force who is also a qualified lawyer. The Director of Military Prosecutions appoints the Prosecutor. In general, the normal rules of evidence applicable in civilian criminal courts also apply to Courts-Martial.

Public Access to Courts Martial

Unless otherwise ordered by the Military Judge, all Courts-Martial are open to the general public. The dates and locations of upcoming Courts-Martial are posted in the Legal Diary on the Defence Forces Website In certain cases e.g. cases involving serious sexual offences, the Military Judge may make an order that the public are to be excluded from the Court-Martial proceedings. In such cases an “In camera” sign is placed outside the Court-Martial Room. Most courts-martial are held in military barracks in Ireland. The Summary Court-Martial regularly sits in various military barracks around the country. Most courts-martial for the Dublin area and almost all trials in respect of serious offences are held in the purpose-built Military Justice Centre in McKee Barracks, Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7.

Appeals to the Courts-Martial Appeal Court

The Court of Appeal Act 2014 established the Court of Appeal (COA) and gave that court jurisdiction to hear appeals from all classes of Court-Martial. An appeal to the COA may be against the conviction or sentence of the trial Court-Martial or against both conviction and sentence. The COA is comprised of three judges and sits in the Criminal Courts of Justice, Parkgate Street, Dublin. This court also hears appeals from the Circuit Criminal Court, the Central Criminal Court and the Special Criminal Court.

In respect of appeals from courts-martial, the COA may make the following orders:

  1. Affirm the conviction and sentence of the trial court-martial (the COA may also vary the sentence of the trial court-martial), or;
  2. Quash the conviction, or;
  3. Quash the conviction and sentence and order the appellant to be retried by court-martial for the offence(s).

Note: The Court-Martial Administrator provides the information on the Defence Forces Internet site, for the general information of members of the Defence Forces and the public. However, the application of the information provided on the Court-Martial Administrator Web Page to individual circumstances can vary, from case to case, depending upon the specific or unique facts involved. The Court-Martial Administrator makes no representations or warranties of any kind regarding the applicability of information presented on the Web Page or provided through its links to any specific or individual circumstances. The information presented by the Court-Martial Administrator on the Web page is provided with the understanding that the Court-Martial Administrator is not engaged in rendering legal services or advice through the information provided. Web site users should not rely on any information on this Web page to take the place of necessary legal or other consultations with qualified professionals. Links to other web sites are inserted for convenience and do not constitute endorsement of material at those sites, or any associated organization, product or service.

28 February 2017