COMMANDING OFFICER'S POWERS OF PUNISHMENT
IN THE ROYAL NAVY
1. A Commanding Officer may award the following
punishments subject to the approval of a Commander in Chief or
a Flag Officer:
Dismissal from Her Majesty's Service.
Detention for a term not exceeding
A fine in excess of 14 days' pay
(maximum 28 days).
Stoppages, for loss or damage, over
14 days' pay (maximum 28 days).
Reduction to the 2nd class for conduct.
Deprivation of Good Conduct badges
and Good Conduct Medal.
2. A Commanding Officer may also award the
A fine not exceeding 14 days' pay
Stoppages, for loss or damage, not
exceeding 14 days' pay.
Extra work and drill (not exceeding
Stoppage of leave (not exceeding
Forfeiture of pay for improper absence.
Extra work or drill not exceeding
two hours a day (not exceeding seven days).
3. The regulations governing summary trial
set out in detail the procedure to be followed. They provide that
the accused should have adequate time to prepare his answer(s)
to the charge(s) and be properly advised and assisted in presenting
his case by a competent officer or senior rating, who may cross-examine
witnesses on behalf of the accused. Commanding officers' powers
of punishment are not unfettered. Consistent, fair and lawful
punishment is ensured by a number of safeguards. Except for a
relatively minor punishment, the approval of a Flag Officer, who
will invariably be advised by a legally qualified officer, must
be sought before a punishment is awarded. The reports from each
ship of all summary punishments awarded are also reviewed regularly
by Commands to ensure legality, fairness and consistency. Personnel
found guilty under the summary system now also have the right
of appeal against sentence or finding and sentence to the Summary
Appeal Court (SAC), where they can be legally represented.
4. Naval Disciplinary Regulations impose
restrictions on the summary trial of Warrant Officers. There are
restrictions on the punishments that may be awarded to Warrant
Officers, amongst which are requirements that any punishment awarded
summarily to a Warrant Officer cannot take effect without the
prior approval of a Flag Officer, and in most cases, before a
Warrant Officer is awarded a summary punishment, he must be given
the option of trial by court-martial.
5. Provision is proposed in this Armed Forces
Bill for the introduction of summary trial for officers. Briefly,
officers of the rank of Commander and below would be given the
option for summary trial, by their Commanding Officer, for minor
offences. That Commanding Officer would have to be at least two
ranks higher than the accused, and must not be of lower rank than
Commander. Should this not be possible, the Commanding Officer's
higher authority would appoint an officer of the necessary rank
to deal with the case. The range of charges to be tried summarily
would be limited (in much the same way as for Warrant Officers
at present), as the range of punishments which may be awarded
following summary trial of an officer is not to exceed a fine
and severe reprimand. Officers will retain the right to elect
for trial by court-martial in all cases. The introduction of these
provisions is intended to continue the drive towards greater equality
of treatment between officers and ratings, where that is judged
sensible, and to capitalise on the advantages of summary trial,
in a wider range of cases.