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Part 3
Types of Courts Martial


There are two types of courts martial within the Canadian Forces: (i) the General Court Martial; and (ii) the Standing Court Martial. These types of courts martial allow a flexibility for the selection of the most suitable tribunal when considering the status of the accused, the charge and possible punishment, as well as the location where the trial is to be held. Each court martial is distinguished by different jurisdictions, compositions and powers of punishment. Both types of courts martial are presided over by a military judge and administer the CSD. What follows are brief descriptions of these courts martial.

(i) The General Court Martial ("GCM") 24

Jurisdiction - A GCM may try any person who is liable to be charged, dealt with and tried on a charge of having committed a service offence.25

Composition - Section 167 of the NDA provides that the GCM shall consist of a military judge and a panel of five officers. The senior member of the GCM must be an officer of or above the rank of colonel.26 If the accused person is an officer, all of the members of the panel must be officers.27 If the accused person is of or above the rank of brigadier-general, the senior member of the panel of officers must be an officer of or above the rank of the accused person, and the other members of the panel must be of or above the rank of colonel.28 If the accused person is of the rank of colonel, all of the members of the panel, except the senior member, must be of or above the rank of lieutenant-colonel.29 If the accused person is a lieutenant-colonel, at least two of the members of the panel must be of or above the rank of the accused person.30 By a recent amendment, if the accused is a non-commissioned member, two non-commissioned members who are of the rank of warrant officer or above must be appointed as members of the panel and the other three members must be officers.31

(ii) The Standing Court Martial ("SCM") 32

Jurisdiction - A SCM may try any person who is liable to be charged, dealt with and tried on a charge of having committed a service offence. 33

Composition - Every military judge is authorized to preside at a Standing Court Martial, and a military judge who does so constitutes the Standing Court Martial. 34

Power of Punishment - A SCM may not pass a sentence that includes a punishment higher in the scale of punishments than dismissal with disgrace from Her Majesty's service. 35

General Note - The SCM makes available to the Canadian Forces a form of court martial that retains all the protections of the GCM, but allows a speedier trial with less of their formality. It removes requirements for such time consuming procedures as having to exclude the Court while the judge advocate hears argument. The SCM is similar in all respects to that of a judge sitting alone in the civilian criminal court.


24 See c.111, s.3 of the QR&O's.

25 See s.166 of the NDA.

26 See ss.167(2) of the NDA.

27 See ss.167(3) of the NDA.

28 See ss.167(4) of the NDA.

29 See ss.167(5) of the NDA.

30 See ss.167(6) of the NDA.

31 See ss.167(7) of the NDA.

32 See s. 173 of the NDA.

33 See s.173 of the NDA.

34 See s.174 of the NDA.

35 See s.175 of the NDA.

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Date Modified:
 2014-03-30