Military Law; Protecting a Soldier’s Rights

by johnvitality on April 26, 2012

The laws and regulations which govern and control military and navel justice in the United Kingdom can be dated all the way back to the 19th century and The Articles of War. This ever changing list of regulations which was created and controlled by a monarch was originally used to control large groups of military personnel, which is a large departure from the modern uses of our military codes of conduct.

In the modern age of our military there is a vast array of situations in which these codes of conduct can come into play and in fact, must do. The complex nature of a soldier’s work and a lot of cases their everyday life makes having specific rules and regulations to rely and take reference from, very much a necessity.

These codes of conduct are not simply to protect the rights of civilian inhabitants of war torn countries, nor are they still simply used to keep soldiers in check by their commanding officers; they are also a vital and essential resource for protecting the lives and rights of the soldiers and military personal that they govern. In a great number of cases ‘low’ ranking officers or military personnel who have been the victims of different prejudices have used these rules and regulations to protect their rights and even defend themselves in court.

For example in the case of Stevenson v The Ministry of Defence and others the codes of correct military conduct were used effectively to take military officers to court for sexual discrimination when they refused to provide the claimant with written records or notification of her mid-period appraisal when she requested them. She was therefore she was not informed of her existing grade. In this case this action was a breach of said rules and the defendants were prosecuted although all other charges were dropped.

In another example of defending the rights of military personnel the military laws and regulations were utilised when, in 1998 a former Lance Corporal challenged the British Army alleging that he had been paid only around 60% of what a British soldier was paid for doing an identical job. Hari Thapa finally settled out-of-court with the Ministry of Defence in his claim of racial discrimination. The Commission for Racial Equality, stated that the settlement was an amount which equalled all of Mr Thapa’s back pay for his entire 15 years’ service in the Brigade of Gurkhas.

When examining cases like these it’s not difficult to see how these rules and regulations have changed over time to protect those who are part of the British military, and how the use of military solicitors can and has been utilised to help those in need. This is a significant departure from their original use, to simply control an entire militaries loyalty.

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