Military Justice at the Unit Level Policy

The Military Justice at the Unit Level Policy was issued 20 June 2022 under the authority of:

Date modified: 19 July 2022

Context and purpose

The coming into force of the remaining provisions of An Act to amend the National Defence Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts (Bill C-77) introduced important changes to the National Defence Act (NDA) and to how the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) addresses misconduct and administers discipline within the Military Justice System (MJS). A critical part of these changes involves the repeal of the Summary Trial process and the introduction of the Summary Hearing (SH) process.

The SH process is a non-penal and non-criminal process designed to address minor breaches of military discipline at the unit level. Essential aspects of the SH process such as: the identification of service infractions that relate to these minor breaches of military discipline; how charges are laid and dealt with at SH; and how findings and sanctions can be reviewed, are largely prescribed in the NDA and the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O). However, in order to assist the CAF in the operationalization of these new legislative and regulatory changes to the MJS, this Military Justice at the Unit Level Policy (Policy) provides supplementary and supporting details.

This policy has been written to supplement the existing NDA and QR&O provisions and is not meant to be used as a standalone instrument. The contents of this policy must be read along with the applicable NDA and QR&O provisions to ensure a complete and accurate understanding of the direction and guidance given.

This policy is in five chapters. Chapter 1 concerns the pre-charge phase, including investigations. Chapter 2 concerns the pre-hearing phase, including making the determination as to whether to proceed with an SH. Chapter 3 concerns the hearing phase. Chapter 4 details the review of an SH result and Chapter 5 concerns the post-hearing administration phase.

Chapter 1 – Pre-charge

Context

This chapter of the Policy is meant to provide guidance about the process to be followed from the moment a complaint of an alleged service offenceFootnote 1  or service infractionFootnote 2  is made, until a charge is laid. This chapter applies to all alleged disciplinary matters, regardless whether the alleged misconduct results in a charge being laid for an alleged service infraction or service offence or results in no charge being laid. This chapter is to be read in conjunction with the relevant provisions in Division 5 of the NDA (Summary Hearings) and Chapter 102 of the QR&O (Investigation and laying of charges).

Chapter 2 - Pre-hearing

Context

This chapter of the Policy is meant to provide guidance about the military justice system processes from the moment a charge is laid through to the decision to: conduct a summary hearing; not proceed with the charge; or refer the charge to another officer. This chapter is to be read in conjunction with the provisions contained in Division 5 of the National Defence Act (NDA) (Summary Hearings) and the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O) Chapter 121 (Referral of Charges and Post Charge Procedure) and Chapter 122 (Summary Hearings).

Chapter 3 – Hearing

Context

This chapter of the Policy is intended to provide guidance on the summary hearing process during the hearing stage. This chapter includes guidance on matters including hearing attendance, taking oaths, pronouncing a decision and imposing a sanction, if applicable. This chapter is to be read in conjunction with the provisions contained in Division 5 of the National Defence Act (NDA) (Summary Hearings) and Chapters 120 (Service Infractions) and 122 (Summary Hearings) of the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O).

Chapter 4 – Review

Context

An essential aspect of ensuring procedural fairness in the summary hearing process is the opportunity to have a military justice authority other than the officer who conducted the summary hearing review the results of that summary hearing when the person charged was found to have committed a service infraction.

This chapter of the Policy is to be read in conjunction with the provisions contained in Division 5 of the National Defence Act (NDA) (Summary Hearings) and Chapter 124 of the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O) (Review), which provide a framework for reviewing the findings made and the sanctions imposed at a summary hearing. This chapter addresses how a review can be requested, who can act as a review authority, how the review is to be conducted and the review authority’s powers.

Chapter 5 – Post-hearing

Context

This chapter of the Policy is meant to provide guidance about the post-hearing process, including administrative duties. This chapter stands alone as there are no companion provisions in the Queen’s Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O) that address this subject.


Footnotes
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