Army Legal Services Branch

Army Legal Services Branch
Cap Badge of the former Army Legal Corps
Active 1978, 1992 within AGC
Country United Kingdom
Branch British Army
Size Approx. 120 Commissioned Officers
Part of Adjutant General's Corps
Motto(s) Justitia in Armis
March Scales of Justice
Director General Susan Ridge
Tactical Recognition Flash

The Army Legal Services Branch (ALS) is a branch of the Adjutant-General's Corps (AGC) in the British Army. Before 1992, the branch existed as the independent Army Legal Corps (ALC).


Many of the functions of the ALS were once carried out by the Judge Advocate General (JAG) whose own origins can be traced back to Medieval times. Following World War I, the growing demand for legal services within the army, led in 1923 to the creation of the Military Department of the Office of the Judge Advocate General.[1]

The Directorate of Army Legal Services was formed from the JAG's office on 1 October 1948 and would go on to receive full corps status as the Army Legal Corps on 1 November 1978. It was always the smallest corps in the Army. On 6 April 1992, the corps became the Army Legal Services Branch of the Adjutant General's Corps, but retains a separate identity and its own cap badge.[1]

Areas of expertise

Army Legal Services Branch is structured as follows:[2]

Service Prosecuting Authority

The ALS posts a number of its Officers to the Service Prosecuting Authority (SPA). The most senior military officer in the organisation is a Brigadier of the ALS who is the Deputy Director Service Prosecutions. Officers of the SPA prosecute cases at Court Martial and where appropriate Service Civilian Court. They also act as respondent in the Summary Appeal Court and represent the Crown at the Court Martial Appeal Court.

The SPA has its HQ and UK Office at RAF Northolt, in Northwest London. It also maintains an office in Bielefeld, Germany.

Advisory Branch

The Advisory Branch of ALS advises the chain of command on a wide variety of administrative, operational and criminal law issues. There are advisory Officers in every major Army HQ around the world. Typically they advise on matters including: whether Commanding Officers should initiate disciplinary procedures for soldiers, Boards of Inquiry, whether administrative action should be taken against those suspected of breaching the Army's values and standards, how the Army should deal with grievances and other employment law related issues, delivering training on disciplinary/administrative processes and on emerging Army policies. Advisory branch Officers often work directly with the Army’s most senior commanders.

In addition within the Advisory branch there are ALS Officers specialising in particular areas such as specialist employment law, primary and subordinate legislation drafting and the drafting and editing of key documents such as the Manual of Military Law and the Queen's Regulations.

Operational Law

When the British Army deploys on operations it takes legal advisors with it. When deployed on operations ALS Officers are often asked to advise on the most sensitive issues, as well as on international law and often on the local law of the country concerned. All army commanders at every level have access to legal advice from ALS Officers and this commitment is increasing all the time both in terms of deployments but also in terms of supporting the Army's pre-deployment training requirements. ALS Operational Law branch Officers are also often attached to the operations of NATO and the UN.

Also, within the Operational Law is the specialist International Law branch of ALS which is located in MOD and is engaged in higher level issues including advising on the Army's interest in the drafting of certain treaties and negotiating and drafting Status of Forces Agreements with other states.

Army Legal Assistance

The headquarters of Army Legal Assistance (ALA) is located at Catterick Barracks, Bielefeld in Germany. This branch provides legal assistance and advice to entitled service personnel and their dependants worldwide. The majority of advice relates to family law, debt and German legal issues. ALA do not deal the Child Support Agency, wills and probate, property law or adoption and fostering.

The principle governing the services provided by ALA is that whilst serving overseas servicemen, their dependants and UKBC's are not able to obtain from civilian solicitors legal advice and assistance on their personal legal problems. ALA therefore exists to provide this service instead. ALA is a free service, but applicants must fund any court or other fixed costs (such as divorce fees) themselves. ALA officers conduct legal clinics in Germany and in operational theatres.

List of Directors General

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Directors General
Date of Appointment Name
Major-General G. A. Whiteley CBE
13 July 1969 Major-General H. Owen[3]
19 July 1971 Major-General R. S. Marshall TD[3]
30 July 1973 Major-General J. C. Robertson[4]
2 Jul 1976 Major-General D. S. Appleby[5]
6 Nov 1978 Major-General J. A. McIlvenna CB[6]
12 Nov 1980 Major-General Sir David Hughes-Morgan Bt. CB, CBE[7]
24 Feb 1984 Major-General J. F. Bowman[7]
3 Dec 1986 Major-General T. Fugard[8]
8 Jan 1990 Major-General D. H. D. Selwood[9]
4 May 1992 Major-General Mike H. F. Clarke[10]
20 Apr 1994 Major-General A. P. V. Rogers[11]
1 Apr 1997 Major-General Gordon Risius CB [12]
20 Jan 2003 Major-General David Howell CB, OBE[13]
1 Oct 2010 Major-General Michael Conway CB [14]
30 Sept 2015 Major-General Susan Ridge[15]

See also


  1. 1 2 "ALS history". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  2. "ALS role". Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  3. 1 2 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45427. p. 7764. 20 July 1971. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  4. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46051. p. 9717. 14 August 1973. Retrieved 3 June 2013.
  5. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 46953. p. 9289. 6 July 1976. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  6. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 47681. p. 13294. 7 November 1978. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  7. 1 2 The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 49658. p. 2875. 27 February 1984. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  8. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 50740. p. 15868. 8 December 1986. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  9. The London Gazette: no. 52023. p. 958. 22 Jan 1990. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  10. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 52917. p. 8159. 11 May 1992. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  11. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 53652. p. 6161. 25 April 1994. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  12. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 54745. p. 4766. 22 April 1997. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56837. p. 1389. 3 Feb 2003. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59565. p. 19215. 5 Oct 2010. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  15. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 61372. p. 18566. 6 October 2015. Retrieved 30 October 2015.

External links

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