Select Committee on Armed Forces Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


The scale of fees payable to lawyers representing service personnel was requested.

  The fees are based on those used in civilian criminal legal aid, which are contained in a civilian handbook, which lays out the principles of administration, and the rates, in accordance with the Legal Aid Act 1988 (The Legal Aid Handbook 1998-99 "Legal Aid in Criminal and Care Proceedings (Costs) Regulations 1989").


  If a serving individual to be tried by court-martial in the UK chooses a solicitor, the rates for preparation are laid out in the handbook. The main rates are:

Preparation:Senior Solicitor £53.00 per hour
  Solicitor £45.00 per hour
Travelling & Waiting£24.75 per hour
Routine letters written and routine telephone calls £3.45 per item


  Advocacy is paid for under either the "Graduated Fee Scheme" or "Ex Post Facto".

    (a)  Graduated Fee Scheme: This applies where a criminal charge would arise, even if the offender were not in the Services, for example, theft. It also covers guilty pleas, "cracked" trials (when a plea is changed on the day of the trial) and trials which are comparatively straightforward.

    (b)  Ex Post Facto: If the offence(s) committed by the individual is of a military criminal nature, such as absence without leave.

Guilty plea

  Fees for guilty pleas range from £115 to £355 (except for a "Class A" offence such as murder or manslaughter). The fees can be increased if there is a significant amount of evidence to be reviewed.

Cracked trial

  Fees for cracked trials range from £251.50 to £467.50 (except for a Class A offence). The fees can be increased if there is a significant amount of evidence to be reviewed.


  Fees for contested trials range from £240 to £446 (except for an offence which falls under Class A). The fees can be increased to take account of refreshers (daily rate to be paid to the advocate while in court), the length of trial, and the amount of written and oral evidence to be reviewed.


  All trials held in Germany and other stations abroad where there is no local lawyer qualified in English law available to represent Service personnel facing a military court are considered, for cost purposes, to be held in London. This arrangement overcomes the problem of travel costs and other disbursements which are not allowable under the civilian legal aid scheme. There is no penalty to Service personnel, as there is a large practising bar in London giving the accused a wide choice of counsel. The applicant for legal aid may request the services of a lawyer outside London, providing, of course, the nominated lawyer accepts the fees, and that the applicant agrees to pay any travel costs and other disbursements to bring them to London.

  (The same rules apply to trials in the UK. A soldier stationed in Aldershot would be expected to consult a solicitor from the same area. However, in cases where personnel are stationed in a remote area away from firms of solicitors, reasonable travel costs would be allowed. This is also the practice in civil criminal matters where it would be reasonable to expect the accused's legal representative to be from the local area and any claim for travel in excess of 25 miles for a return journey would not be allowed.)

  Costs in each case will be unique, but nearly all cases abroad attract the following elements:

    —  Fees for travel days and days out of court ("fallow" days). A "fallow" day fee of £80 is allowed, for every day a solicitor or barrister is out of UK, but not in court.

    —  Return civil air travel.

    —  Free (to the lawyer) accommodation and messing.

    —  Professional or "brief" fees; which may include experts to attend the trial.

    —  Advocate's "Refresher" fees for any day in court other than the first.

    —  Any other reasonable expense.

  The brief fee (which includes all preparation) is currently set at £600, with a daily refresher of £175. It was increased last year and is reviewed regularly. The brief fee is negotiable if the lawyer can justify it because, for example, the case is complex. Before increasing the fees etc, a comparison is made against the fees payable had the trial taken place in the UK.

The Committee asked about Ministry of Defence Police activity in respect of wrecks.

  Members of the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) enjoy the powers and privileges of constables, when in the UK or UK territorial waters, in any place to which section 2(2) of the Ministry of Defence Police Act 1987 applies. Elsewhere, they have jurisdiction, when in the UK or UK territorial waters, in relation to the matters set out in section 2(3) of the Act. Those matters include Crown property. Her Majesty's Ships, which remain in the ownership of the Secretary of State for Defence, even after they have sunk, are Crown property. Thus, members of the MDP have jurisdiction when acting in respect of naval wrecks lying in UK territorial waters. They do not enjoy such jurisdiction when the wrecks lie in international waters. As was stated in answer to a recent question (Official Report for 22 January, column 423W), however, where it is alleged that material has been taken from a naval wreck, in territorial or international waters the MDP will investigate that allegation. If the wreck lies in international waters but material from it has been brought to the UK, the MDP will pursue investigations in the normal way. Where it appears that the material has been taken to a country outside the UK, the MDP will liaise directly with the relevant agencies in that country.

  The Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, in respect of England and Wales, and the Lord Advocate, in respect of Scotland, have declared a wreck amnesty, to run from 23 January to 24 April 2001. Under section 236 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995, anyone finding or taking possession of any wreck in United Kingdom waters, or finding or taking possession of any wreck and bringing it within United Kingdom waters, must declare it to the Receiver of Wreck. "Wreck" has a rather technical definition under section 255 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1995. A person, even the owner of the wreck, who fails without reasonable excuse to report the wreck to the Receiver of Wreck, is guilty of a criminal offence and may be liable to a fine. If the person is not the owner of the wreck, he may also forfeit any salvage rights and may be liable to pay twice the value of the wreck to the owner of it or the person entitled to it.

  The aim of the amnesty is to make finders of wreck aware of these provisions and to encourage the reporting of past finds. The amnesty has been agreed by the Crown Prosecution Service. It is available only for failures to report wreck that occurred before the commencement of the amnesty. The amnesty has been well received by the sports diving community, maritime leisure organisations and the diving press.

  In addition to co-ordinating the MDP participation in the wreck amnesty, the MDP Force Crime Reduction Officer sits on the Wreck Amnesty Working Group alongside the Receiver of Wreck and colleagues from the MoD, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, the Royal Commission on Historic Monuments, the Nautical Archaeological Society, the Sub-Aqua Association and the British Sub-Aqua Club amongst others. The MDP Force Crime Reduction Officer also provides advice to MDP officers on crime reduction strategies and policing arrangements concerning naval wreck sites.

February 2001

The Committee asked for information about the numbers of applications for redress of complaint, including petitions to the Sovereign.

  1.  The Service statistics for 1999 and 2000 for petitions to the Sovereign and redress of complaint (showing in the latter case the level to which referred) are as follows:



  (a)  RN only collate statistics by financial year.

  (b)  The RN and RAF do not hold central figures for redress cases dealt with below MoD/Command level.

  (c)  Army figures are available for redress of complaint cases referred to divisional level, as follows: 1999-164, 2000-167.

  (d)  Figures reflect the year in which the redress was referred to the level shown.

  (e)  Cases referred to the Defence Council are in practice considered by the Service Boards.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 19 March 2001