Providing military legal support to the Army
Army Legal Services is a specialist all-Officer branch of the Adjutant General's Corps. ALS is comprised of professionally qualified solicitors, barristers and Scottish advocates. The role of ALS is the provision of legal support to the Army.
Headquarters Legal Advisory is based at Headquarters Field Army in Andover. Its lawyers advise the chain of command on all aspects of military and administrative law. There are legal branches in every major Army HQ in the UK and in the British Army and NATO HQs around the world.
Lawyers 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.
Service Prosecuting Authority
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 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 Courts Martial wherever Her Majesty’s Armed Forces are stationed.
HQ Operational Law is based at Army Headquarters in Andover. Its lawyers regularly deploy around the world; to operational theatres, as part of training teams delivering Law of Armed Conflict and Human Rights training to other armed forces and on exchange postings with the US and Australian Armies. They also train units and individuals in operational law (both at home and on operations abroad) prior to all operational deployments and throughout their careers.
They undertake duties in intelligence related posts, assist with the development of future doctrine, and regularly support training exercises in the field and in the classroom.
Army commanders at every level have access to legal advice from ALS officers and demand for this support is increasing.
Major General Alex Taylor was born in Dover, Kent in 1970. He attended Calday Grange Grammar School and is a graduate of Hatfield College, Durham and Peterhouse, Cambridge and holds a Masters degree in Public International Law.
After completing solicitors’ finals at the College of Law, Chester his formative professional legal career was undertaken at a large commercial law firm in the City of London. He qualified as a solicitor and commissioned into the Army Legal Services in 1997.
His military career has been balanced across service prosecutions, advisory and operational law. He has completed three prosecutorial tours, served overseas in Germany, Iraq, on exchange with the United States JAG Corps and more recently undertaken a range of advisory and employment law roles within Army HQ. Alex attended the Royal College of Defence Studies in 2018 and was appointed as Director Army Legal Services in July 2019.
A keen sportsman, having played Masters hockey for England and a golf blue from Cambridge. He is President of Armed Forces Hockey and sits as the Disciplinary Chair for England Hockey.
He has two teenage children.
WHAT WE DO
The Army Legal Services Branch of the Adjutant General's Corps is a specialist branch of the Army, with just over 100 Officers. As the legal repercussions of the Army's actions continue to increase in importance, it's a vital area of the Army's work. Its responsibilities are extensive, from giving legal advice on international, civil and military law and advising on operational law, the law of armed conflict and rules of engagement to prosecuting in the Court Martial.
Gray's Inn Podcast
‘Have you considered being a Barrister or Solicitor in the Army? Tune in to find out more about life in the Army Legal Services’.
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 numbers of War Crimes trials prompted the establishment of a separate department dedicated to giving advice on investigations and prosecuting at such trials.
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 2018 the Army Legal Services branch celebrated its 70th Anniversary.
Since 1992 ALS officers have served operationally all over the world, including Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.
WHERE WE ARE
Directorate Army Legal Services
HQ 1(UK) Division
HQ 3(UK) Division
HQ 6(UK) Division
HQ London District
HQ Land Warfare Centre
Law Society Gazette Feature
‘I would not go on any operation without a lawyer by my side.' On the front line with Army Legal Services.
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