Army Legal Services is a branch of the Adjutant General's Corps, a specialist all-Officer branch. ALS is comprised of professionally qualified solicitors, barristers or Scottish advocates. The role of ALS is the provision of legal support to the Army.
Legal Advisory branch is based at Headquarters Land Forces in Andover. They advise the chain of command on all aspects of military and administrative law. There are legal advisory offices in every major Army HQ in the UK and in the British Army and NATO HQs around the world.
Advisory officers assist the chain of command with all legal aspects of their work. They also conduct training in military law and prepare military law publications to support the chain of command.
The Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA) is a tri-service organisation that has its Headquarters and UK elements based at RAF Northolt in London and an office at Bielefeld in Germany.
Officers of the SPA are responsible for the consideration of referred cases from the Chain of Command or Service Police and where appropriate the prosecution of those cases at Court Martial. Officers of the SPA also prosecute cases at Service Civilian Courts, act as respondent at the Summary Appeals Court and represent the Crown at the Court Martial Appeals Court.
Whilst Officers of the SPA mainly prosecute cases in the UK and Germany, opportunities exist to prosecute at Court Martials wherever Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are stationed.
The Operational Law Branch (OLB) is responsible for training all units and individuals regarding operational law (both at home and on operations abroad) prior to all operational deployments and throughout their careers.
The OLB also assists with the development of future doctrine, and regularly supports training exercises in the field and in the classroom.
OLB officers serve in assignments involving International Law, International Humanitarian Law, attached as staff officers within deploying headquarters formations (typically at Brigade level and higher). Exchange postings also exist in Australia and the USA. OLB officers also undertake duties in Intelligence related posts, and OLB officers regularly deploy to operational theaters such as Op HERRICK in Afghanistan.
Army commanders at every level have access to legal advice from ALS officers and demand for this support is increasing.
Army Legal Assistance (ALA) is established to provide free legal support on personal issues to entitled Service personnel, accompanying dependants and UK Based Civilians who are serving outside Great Britain (personnel in Britain have access to civilian lawyers). ALA takes on about 950 cases annually, the majority being concerned with: Power of Attorney; Change of name; Certification of documents; Divorce; Child contact and maintenance; Breach of contract (especially for goods and services); Breach of copyright (especially downloading and file-sharing) and Personal Injury.
However, ALA is not permitted to assist Service personnel with matters involving service discipline, administrative action or service complaints.
Staffed by officers of the Army Legal Services and German Legal Assistants, ALA is based in Bielefeld, Germany. It holds regular legal clinics overseas in Afghanistan, Cyprus and Northern Ireland.
ALS is a branch of the Adjutant General's Corps within the British Army. We only recruit solicitors, barristers and advocates qualified in England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.
All applicants to join the Army Legal Services must, by the advertised date of commissioning into ALS, have successfully completed a qualifying degree (i.e. LLB/MA in Law or other suitable degree plus a CPE/GDL); a post-graduate professional legal practitioner course (LPC or BVC/BPTC); a 12-month pupillage (if a barrister) or a 2-year training contract (if a solicitor); and have a current practicing certificate issued by the relevant regulatory authority.
Many of the functions of the ALS were once carried out by the Judge Advocate General (JAG), whose own origins can be traced back to Medieval times.
It was however the seventeenth century when the 'Marshal's Court' became the 'court martial' and the 'Advocate of the Army' first took responsibility for one of the main functions of ALS today, namely preparing the case for the prosecution of soldiers under Military Law.
WW1 saw an increase in legal work resulting from mobilisation. This prompted the JAG to appoint deputies at various force headquarters with responsibility for reviewing the courts-martial proceedings and supervising other officers involved in the legal process. The fact that so many aspects of the courts martial process were in the hands of one man, the JAG, did not go unnoticed.
As with the first war, mobilisation provided a great deal of work for the Office. Members of the department were based in Headquarters throughout the UK. The prospect of large number of War Crimes trials prompted the establishment of a separate department dedicated to the investigating, advising on and prosecuting at such trails.
The Directorate of Army Legal Services was formed on 1 October 1948. The DALS consisted of a Brigadier, three Colonels, eight Lieutenant Colonels and eight other Officers. Those Officers who were commissioned into the JAG's office, but who elected not to transfer to the DALS, relinquished their commissions.
On 1 November 1978, the Officers of the Army Legal Services Staff List were transferred by Royal warrant to the new Army Legal Corps. The following years were a busy time for the new Corps with the Falklands Conflict and the Gulf War which saw a substantial number of ALS Officers deployed to Saudi Arabia.
In 1992 the ALC was subsumed into the AGC as the Army Legal Services Branch. On 1st October 2008 the Army Legal Services branch celebrated its 60th Anniversary.
Since 1992 ALS officers have served operationally all over the world, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.