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Court Martial Procedure

Volume 413: debated on Friday 24 August 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War what is the normal time which elapses between court-martial and promulgation in case of troops under command of H.Q., C.M.F.; what circumstances would be held to justify the period being exceeded; and what investigations are made in case of undue delay in promulgation of sentence.

The normal time which elapses between court-martial and promulgation in the case of troops under command of H.Q., C.M.F., is 14 days in cases other than penal servitude. Fifty per cent. of penal servitude cases are promulgated in less than 28 days but the remainder of penal servitude cases may take up to six weeks. Justifiable delays may be caused when the accused has petitioned, or is in hospital or has escaped, or when the confirming authority has found it necessary to send back the proceedings for revision of finding or sentence, or for investigation as to the truth or otherwise of statements made by the accused in mitigation of punishments, or when the confirming authority has decided to refer the case to superior military authority when the proceedings appear to be illegal or involve substantial injustice to the accused. Movements of units or formations may cause justifiable delay.

In cases of penal servitude, which require confirmation by the Army Commander, delay has in the past been caused by operational pressure, or by reason of the Army Commander's absence on urgent duties. Abnormal delay is automatically the subject of comment by legal staff on review, and is thereafter investigated through staff channels unless clearly due to operational reasons.