MILITARY LAW embraces both a penal code for the maintenance of discipline of the army and also administrative law, which provides for the maintenance of the Army.
It is important to note that in Great Britain the Army Act itself does not take the form of permanent legislation, because it requires to be brought into operation annually by another Act of parliament known as the Army (Annual) Act. In other words, the Army Act is brought up annually for review by parlia ment and is amended (often considerably).
When a soldier is charged with an offence he is, if the offence is deemed serious, placed under close arrest, i.e., he is confined in the guard room in the custody of the non-commissioned of ficer in charge of the guard. If, on the other hand, the offence is not of a serious nature, he is placed in open arrest, i.e., he is not permitted to leave barracks until his case has been disposed of. The soldier is then brought before his commanding officer who hears the charge, and if it be one he is authorized by the King's Regulations to dispose of, he may either so dispose of it, or he may, if he considers that the punishment which he may award is not sufficient, remand the accused soldier for trial by court martial. If, on the other hand, the offence is not one which he is authorized by the King's Regulations to dispose of, he has no alternative but to remand the soldier for trial by court martial if he thinks that the offence has been committed. On the other hand, however, the commanding officer may, of course, dismiss any charge, if, in his discretion, he thinks it ought not to be proceeded with.
The punishments to which a soldier is liable on conviction by court martial are (I) death, (2) penal servitude (for life), (3) imprisonment, (4) detention, (5) field punishment, (6) dis charge with ignominy, (7) if a non-commissioned officer (a) reduction in rank and precedence, (b) reduction in rank, (c) re duction to the ranks, (d) reprimand, (8) fines, (9) stoppages of pay, (io) forfeiture of pay. A warrant officer is liable to
similar punishments with slight differences of a technical nature. Trial by Court Martial.—A court martial is conducted under conditions similar to civil courts. The material difference is that the sentence of the court is not valid until it has been "con firmed" by superior authority. An interesting point in regard to courts martial is that a conviction or an acquittal by a court mar tial does not bar proceedings being taken for the identical offence in the civil courts. The converse, however, does not apply.
The proceedings of all courts martial are reviewed by the judge-advocate-general who is the legal adviser of the secretary of State. If the proceedings are found by him to be irregular before confirmation, confirmation would be refused and the proceedings thereby nullified. If, on the other hand, the pro ceedings are reviewed by the judge-advocate-general after con firmation and are found to be invalid they would be quashed by the Army Council and the accused thereby relieved of all consequences of his trial.
In so far as an officer is concerned, his position differs from that of a soldier. First of all the soldier enlists for a particular term of service, which term varies with military requirements.
It may be, for example, for seven years with the colours and five years with the reserve, or three years with the colours and nine years with the reserve. On the completion of his term of service the soldier concerned is entitled to be discharged, having completed his engagement. The officer, on the other hand, does not enter into any contract of this nature. When granted a com mission by the sovereign he holds that commission at the King's pleasure, and in addition to the penal code to which he is sub jected under the Army Act he may be removed from the Army at the king's pleasure, or he may be required to resign his com mission, or to retire, under conditions which are indicated in the Royal Warrant for Pay and Promotion.