ARCHIVED - Chapter 1: Who We are: The Office of the JAG

Legal Officers settling claims in an operational theatre and dealing with administrative law matters.

Administrative Law Division

In very broad and general terms, administrative law is a branch of public law focused on the legal regulation of governmental power, particularly with respect to the state’s (and its institutions) relations with individual citizens. Administrative decision-making pervades every aspect of the CAF, from the ministerial level to the commanding officer. The purpose of military administrative law is to ensure that the decisions affecting CAF members are made fairly by those who have the legal authority to do so and legal officers working in the Administrative Law Division are responsible for advising on legal matters pertaining to the administration of the CAF. Given the size and complexity of the CAF and the multitude of administrative decisions made each day, ensuring that these decisions are made in accordance with legislation and the rule of law is a vital task.

The Administrative Law Division is divided into three directorates namely, Director of Law/Military Personnel (DLaw/Mil Pers), Directorate of Law/Administrative Law (DLaw/Admin Law) and Director of Law/Compensation Benefits Pensions and Estates (DLaw/CBP&E), all dealing with the legal aspects of such matters as compensation and benefits, pensions and estates, grievances, administrative investigations and military personnel management. The Division also assists the Chief Electoral Officer in administering federal elections between and during federal elections in particular, by providing a legal officer (the DND/CF Coordinating Officer) to assist in facilitating CAF electors to exercise their right to vote wherever they serve or are deployed in Canada or abroad.

Reserve officer dressed in combat for field training.

Reserve force legal officers participate in training and exercises and the Office of the JAG draws upon their knowledge and experience.

Operational Law Division

The Operational Law Division is responsible for providing legal support to the CAF and DND in relation to operational law. Operational law is that body of domestic and international law that applies to the conduct of all phases of a CAF operation at all levels of command. This includes advising on current, and preparing for future, operations conducted in Canada and abroad. Additionally, the Operations Division oversees all legal officers deployed on operations, and through these officers provides legal support to deployed CAF elements with regard to military law, including military justice.

Regional Services Division

Regional Services legal offices are located at CAF Bases and Wings throughout Canada, as well as in the United States and Germany. Through these offices, the Regional Services Division is responsible for providing general legal support and advice on all areas of military law, including advice on military justice, administrative law and operational law matters, to the chain of command.

Chief of Staff Division

The Chief of Staff (COS) Division is responsible for providing internal support and corporate administrative services to the Office of the JAG. This includes military personnel management, financial services, information management, library services and training, as well as overseeing all civilian staff in the Office of the JAG.

Legal officer working on the bridge of an HMC ship.

JAG officers provide a full spectrum of legal support to HMC Ships.

Military Justice Division

The Military Justice Division is charged with leading proactive change in the military justice system. It comprises two directorates: Military Justice Operations and Military Justice Strategic. Military Justice Operations is responsible for supporting the JAG in key aspects of the superintendence of the administration of military justice, the provision of legal advice to the CF Military Police Group HQ and the day-to-day operation of the military justice system. Military Justice Strategic is responsible for the development and implementation of a strategic military justice vision that will allow the Office of the JAG and the CAF to anticipate and respond to external and internal challenges while bringing positive change to the military justice system.

Major Highfill receiving an award from Colonel Gleeson.

The Office of the JAG benefits from the experience of our allies. Exchange officer Major Highfill, United States JAG Corps, was posted to the Canadian Forces Military Law Centre.

Legal Officers Serving Outside the Office of the JAG

In addition to the legal officers serving in the above-mentioned organizations, a number of legal officers serve outside the Office of the JAG. This includes those working at the Canadian Forces Military Law Centre (CFMLC) in Kingston, Ontario – the CAF’s military legal education organization – the Office of the Legal Adviser to the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces (DND/CF LA) – a Department of Justice Legal Services Unit – in Ottawa, the Privy Council Office and the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

The Judge Advocate General (JAG)

The JAG is appointed by the Governor in Council to act as legal adviser to the Governor General, the Minister of National Defence, the Department of National Defence (DND) and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in matters relating to military law. “Military law” is the broad legal discipline encompassing all international and domestic law relating to the CAF, including its governance, administration and activities. In addition, the JAG also has a statutory mandate to superintend the administration of military justice in the CAF. In this capacity, the JAG conducts regular reviews of the military justice system and submits annual reports to the Minister on the administration of military justice in the CAF.

Office of the Judge Advocate General

The Office of the JAG assists the JAG in the performance of his duties and functions. It is composed of regular and reserve force legal officers, some CAF members from other military occupations, and civilian personnel. All legal officers serving in the Office of the JAG are fully qualified lawyers, members in good standing of their respective provincial or territorial law societies, and are officers ranging in rank from Captain/Lieutenant (Navy) to Major-General/Rear-Admiral.

The National Defence Act (NDA) provides that the JAG is responsible to the Minister in the performance of the JAG’s duties and functions. Under the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces, every legal officer whose duty is the provision of legal services to the CAF shall be posted to a position established within the Office of the JAG, and the JAG has command over all of these officers. The duties of these legal officers are determined by or under the authority of the JAG and, in respect of the performance of those duties, a legal officer is not subject to the command of an officer who is not a legal officer. Thus, the requirements of the NDA and regulations ensure that legal officers are able to provide independent legal advice.

Structurally, the Office of the JAG is composed of seven sub-organizations: the Canadian Military Prosecution Service, the Defence Counsel Services, and the following five divisions, which are each headed by a Deputy Judge Advocate General (DJAG): Military Justice, Administrative Law, Operational Law, Regional Services, and Chief of Staff. The head of each of these seven sub-organizations holds the rank of Colonel/Captain (Navy).

Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP)

The Director of Military Prosecutions (DMP) is the senior military prosecutor in the CAF, responsible for the conduct of all prosecutions at courts martial, and acts as counsel for the Minister on appeals to the Court Martial Appeal Court of Canada (CMAC) and the Supreme Court of Canada. The DMP also provides legal advice in support of investigations conducted by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, a military police service that reports to the CF Provost Marshal.

The DMP acts independently from the Office of the JAG and other CAF and DND authorities when exercising his powers, duties and functions but remains under the general supervision of the JAG, who may issue written general instructions or guidelines in respect of prosecutions. Consistent with his role as superintendent of the military justice system, the JAG may also issue instructions or guidelines in respect of a particular prosecution, which must be made public unless the DMP considers that it would not be in the best interest of the administration of military justice to do so.

Defence Counsel Services (DCS)

Defence Counsel Services is headed by the Director of Defence Counsel Services (DDCS). The DDCS provides, supervises and directs the provision of legal services to persons who are liable to be charged, dealt with and tried under the Code of Service Discipline (CSD). In the past, the rank of the DDCS had been Lieutenant-Colonel. On 10 August 2010, however, the position of DDCS was established at the rank of Colonel and the incumbent promoted to that rank. This better reflects the independence and importance of the position and the DCS.

Although the DDCS acts under the general supervision of the JAG, he is independent of the Office of the JAG and other CAF and DND authorities when carrying out a wide array of prescribed duties and functions that pertain to the defence of clients at many stages of the investigative and judicial processes. The JAG may issue written general instructions or guidelines in respect of defence counsel services. The DDCS is required to make the general instructions or guidelines available to the public. However, unlike with the DMP, the JAG has no authority to issue instructions or guidelines in respect of a particular defence case.

Organization Chart (Director and Field Office Level)
Office of the Judge Advocate General

  • Minister of National Defence
    • Deputy Minister of National Defence
    • Chief of Defence Staff
    • Judge Advocate General
      • JAG CWO
      • Special Assistant
      • Director of Military Prosecutions (under the general supervision of the JAG by virtue of NDA Section 165.17)
        • Assistant DMP
        • DMP CFNIS Advisor
        • DMP 3 (policy, Training, Communications)
        • DMP 4 Appellate Counsel
        • Deputy Director Military Prosecutions
          • Regional Military Prosecutor West
          • Regional Military Prosecutor East
        • Deputy Director Military Prosecutions 2
          • Regional Military Prosecutor Atlantic
          • Regional Military Prosecutor Central
        • Deputy Director Military Prosecutor/Reserves (JAG Reserve Position)
      • Director of Defence Counsel Services (under the general supervision of the JAG by virtue of NDA Section 249.2)
        • Assistant DDCS
        • Deputy Director Defence Counsel Services/Reserves (JAG Reserve Position)
      • Deputy Legal Advisor DND & CF (11 legal officer positions on loan to DND/CF LA)
      • Deputy JAG/Regional Services
        • Assistant JAG Pacific
          • Deputy Judge Advocate COMOX
          • Deputy JAF Pacific (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG West
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Cold Lake
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Wainwright
          • Deputy Judge Advocate JTFN
          • Deputy AJAG West (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG Prairie
          • Deputy AJAG Prairie (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG Central
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Petawawa
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Trenton
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Borden
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Kingston
          • Deputy AJAG Central (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG East
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Valcartier
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Bagotville
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Quebec
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Saint Jean
          • Deputy AJAG East (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG Atlantic
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Gagetown
          • Deputy Judge Advocate Greenwood
          • Deputy AJAG Atlantic (JAG Reserve Position)
        • Assistant JAG Europe
        • Assistant JAG Colorado Springs
          • Deputy Judge Advocate NORAD
        • Deputy Judge Advocate Ottawa
      • Deputy JAG Operations
        • Assistant Deputy JAG Operations
          • CANSOFCOM Legal Advisor
        • SJS Legal Advisor
        • Director International & Operations Law
        • Director of Law Intelligence & Information OPS
        • CJOC Legal Advisors
      • Deputy JAG/Military Justice
        • DLAW/MJ Ops
        • DLAW/MJ Strat
      • Deputy JAG/Reserves
      • Chief of Staff JAG
        • Deputy/Chief of Staff
      • Deputy JAG/Admin Law
        • DLAW/Admin Law
        • DLAW/CBP&E
        • DLAW/Mil Pers

Canadian Offices of the Judge Advocate General

  • JAG Office
    • Ottawa (including CJOC, CANSOFCOM, Provost Marshall)
  • Assistant Judge Advocate General
    • Victoria
    • Edmonton
    • Winnipeg
    • Toronto
    • Montreal
    • Halifax
  • Deputy Judge Advocate General
    • Comox
    • Cold Lake
    • Borden
    • Trenton
    • Kingston
    • Petawawa
    • Ottawa
    • St-Jean
    • Valcartier
    • Naval Reserve Headquarters
    • Bagotville
    • Gagetown
    • Greenwood
  • Regional Military Prosecutors
    • Edmonton
    • Ottawa
    • Valcartier
    • Halifax
  • Directorate of Defence Counsel Services
    • Ottawa
  • Director of Military Prosecutions
    • Ottawa

Canadian Offices of the Judge Advocate General

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