Military law, soldiers and legal rights
The basic objective of this thesis is to see whether those subject to military law had in the past, and continue to have, the same rights and duties as a civilian. To that end Part 1, which is both narrative and analytical, traces the development of military law and punishments to ascertain whether soldiers were punished in the same way, and with the same severity as civilians. An historical approach is adopted tracing military law back to its origins in feudalism, and not simply from the establishment of Cromwell's New Model Army in the Seventeenth Century, which is traditionally seen as the forerunner of the modern army. The research for Part 1 was library based, drawing together disparate materials dealing with military and civil law and punishments, including, statutes, official documents (parliamentary debates and reports), and in relation to military law in particular, handwritten manuscripts concerning courts-martial and military life. To the same end, Part 2 of the thesis analyses modern day military law, as embodied in the Army Act 1955 and subsequent legislation It compares and analyses the trial process in British military law with that in English civil criminal law, from pre-arrest investigation to ultimate disposal by appeal or judicial review. Part 2 considers the military's approach, and its ramifications for those subject to military law, to certain "rights" which are, or have been the subject of considerable debate in civil law but have hitherto received scant, if any consideration at all in a military context. In particular an analysis is made of the soldiers position in relation to jury trials, access and availability of legal aid and representation and sentencing. The principal sources of material for this part were the Army Act 1955, parliamentary debates and reports, interviews with those concerned in the administration of military law and, of course, where available, decided cases. In contrast to Part 1, Part 2 is largely analytical.