Military Court Laws and Procedures in Australia

Military Court Laws

The Australian Defence Force has a military justice system to support commanders and to ensure effective command at all times. This justice system covers functions such as discipline, administrative action to support ADF policies, inquiries to establish facts relevant to operation and the provisions for review and management of complaints. The military justice system is vital to ADF operational effectiveness and it complies with Commonwealth laws. Military members are subject to the same laws as apply to other Australians.

How the system established?

The Defence Force Discipline Act establishes the main aspect of the military justice system. This includes the director of military prosecutions who prosecutes ADF members or serious criminal conduct. The act also sets up the system of military tribunals, including defence force magistrates and court-martial. The act is also applicable extra-territorially allowing the ADF to respond to the criminal conduct alleged to have taken place overseas.

Components of the military justice system

The military justice system comprises of the following:

  • Discipline System

The Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 (DFDA) was introduced by Federal Government as a part of Commonwealth law. This law became effective in 1985 and all ADF members are subject to it. The sole purpose of this system is to maintain and enforce discipline in the military which is necessary for ADF operational capability by dealing with offences.

The discipline system prosecutes ADF members for their offence within the military justice system when the offence considerably affects the maintenance and ability to enforce service discipline in the ADF.  Otherwise, criminal offences or other illegal conduct are referred to civil authorities such as the police.

The discipline system includes processes for the investigation of alleged offences, preferring of charges and conduct of fair and reasonable trials and all the ADF members have access to free legal advice which makes this unique to the military.

  • Right to Complain

There are a number of internal and external organisations to assist ADF members in making a complaint. The members can submit their complaints through the commanding officer or chain of command and if this course of action is not appropriate then members can seek other avenues of complaint. For example, if defence personnel have been wrongfully dismissed, subject to discrimination or harassed, then they can complain through their commanding officer and also have rights to move the civil court. For this, the employment lawyers in Melbourne can help you out. These lawyers can advise you on the employment issues and provide advice as well as assistance with service complaints. They also help undertake military tribunal work such as race and sex discrimination claims including sexual harassment. 

  • Residential Property Claim

The ADF members may be subject to property disputes and for this, the residential property lawyers can help them out. The issues faced by military personnel include property conveyancing, boundary disputes with the neighbours, extending the lease and settlement of the property. These issues are not handled by the military justice system but by the civil court, however, the military services can help in providing advice and a help in hiring a property lawyer.