Provisions relating to civilians
106. It has been long practice that civilians are
subject to aspects of military law when they are living or working
alongside the Armed Forces.
The Bill establishes the Service Civilian Court to replace the
Standing Civilian Court.
Mr Morrison, MoD's Director of Legislation, explained that, following
consultation with the Services, it was found that many of the
disciplinary offences, such as insubordination to a superior officer,
were not used in relation to civilians.
The Bill will limit the disciplinary offences with which civilians
can be charged, and will remove the distinction between civilians
accompanying the Armed Forces overseas in peacetime, and those
accompanying the Armed Forces on active service, the definition
of which has been problematic and broadly has no application other
than in respect of civilians.
The MoD supplementary memorandum explains that:
The Armed Forces Bill dispenses with the current
two-tiered application of Service law to civilians accompanying
the armed forces, and replaces it with a single system that will
apply all the time, whether the armed forces are on active service
or not. The Bill describes such civilians as subject to service
We are content with the provisions in the Bill
that remove the anomalous two-tier approach to civilians subject
to Service discipline.
107. The application of Service law to civilians
was an issue of particular interest during our visit to Cyprus,
where three jurisdictionslocal Cypriot, Sovereign Base
Area and Service lawapply to different individuals depending
on who they are and their geographical location. Cyprus is an
important base for the United Kingdom's Armed Forces. The situation
in Cyprus is more confused than in Germany, the other location
where there are substantial numbers of civilians who will be subject
to this legislation. There are anomalies in the legal situation
in the Sovereign Base Areas, and as regards the Service police
and Sovereign Base Area police. MoD provided us with supplementary
material explaining the application of Service law to civilians
in Cyprus. The
memorandum highlights difficulties that have arisen:
UK based civil servants (and their families)
are subject to Service law while they are in Cyprus, if they work
in a capacity "connected with" the armed forces. This
clearly covers UK based civil servants working for British Forces
Cyprus, but the position is less clear in the case of those working
for the Sovereign Base Areas Administration. The administration
is separate from British Forces Cyprus, but is "connected
with" the presence of British Forces.
Similarly, a locally employed civilian working
for British Forces Cyprus is subject to Service law, but (because
of the uncertainty of the words "connected with", referred
to above) the effect of the legislation is not so clear in relation
to locally employed civilians working for the Sovereign Base Areas
The memorandum goes on to note that in practice,
Service jurisdiction is not exercised over civil servants working
for the Sovereign Base Areas Administration, nor is it asserted
over local residents.
108. We urge the Government to consider how the
legal situation, applying to Service personnel and civilians subject
to Service discipline in Cyprus, might be clarified.
109. It was clear during our visit to Cyprus that
civilians subject to service discipline, including both Service
families and civil servants, were not well acquainted with their
position under the law. We recommend that MoD ensure that civilians
who are to be subject to Service discipline are provided with
clear and accessible guidance as to their position under the law.