Defence and armed forces – guidance

Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority

How AFCLAA manages civilian criminal legal representation for all eligible service personnel and civilians; and how to apply for assistance.

About AFCLAA

The Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA) manages the provision of civilian criminal legal representation for all eligible service personnel and civilians, advising on and executing policy.

AFCLAA is a single authority dealing with all aspects of criminal legal aid for those prosecuted through the Service Criminal Justice System. The authority is a part of the Military Court Service (MCS) but remains a statutory authority to retain independence from the Service Prosecuting Authorities, the single service personnel departments and other agencies involved with service discipline.

Our role and responsibilities

Although non-statutory, the JSP 838: Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Scheme is based upon the same principles as those which apply in the civilian system, with additional provision for the unique circumstances of entitled personnel. So, for example, determination (review) and payment of costs and disbursements is calculated using the formulae applied to lawyers defending in the Crown Court, whether the matter relates to cases for service personnel abroad or not.

  1. Members of the armed forces, worldwide, for all matters dealt with by the service courts, including Court Martial and Summary Appeal Court
  2. Members of the UK Based Civilian (UKBC) component, including civil servants, teachers and NAAFI staff, based outside mainland UK, for all matters involving Service jurisdiction, dealt with by the service courts
  3. Dependants of armed forces personnel and the UKBC component, based outside mainland UK, for all matters involving service jurisdiction, dealt with by the service courts
  4. Members of the armed forces, the UKBC component and dependants, for matters dealt with by the civilian criminal court of the country in which the individual is based on permanent or detached duty. Such applications will only be considered where there is no equivalent legal aid scheme available through the civilian court in which the matter is to be heard

AFCLAA also pay for legal advice and assistance to accused personnel at Royal Military Police stations, and legal representation at pre-charge custody hearings, outside England and Wales. Legal advice and assistance, and legal representation at pre-charge custody hearings held within England and Wales are paid indirectly by AFCLAA, via the Legal Services Commission.

Procedures and practices

AFCLAA’s core business is the provision of (criminal) legal aid to eligible personnel, and the management of legally aided cases from initial application through to final settlement of all bills. AFCLAA will, on behalf of the defendant, instruct a legal representative and otherwise monitor the progress of the case.

The responsibilities are wide, ranging from matters relating to strategy and overall management of Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid, to advice on policy issues, liaison with the MOD and the single services when change is mooted; and working with the Treasury Solicitor at judicial review of legal aid cases.

Management of cases within AFCLAA remains the responsibility of 1 of 3 designated case teams. Each team consists of a Case Officer and an Assistant Case Officer, with their own discrete areas of responsibility within the team, but with joint responsibility to administer cases right through to completion. This includes assessing initial applications for legal aid; negotiating with and instructing of civilian lawyers; dealing directly with units and other agencies to ensure smooth and timely progression of their team cases and general oversight and management of those cases. The Case Officer in each team has overall responsibility for these tasks, a major part of which is the ultimate determination and settlement of all legal aid related bills.

Advice and guidance

Anyone wanting general information, advice or guidance on any legal aid issues is encouraged to contact AFCLAA for assistance.

General enquires: 01980 618915 or 01980 618008
Policy enquires: 01980 615973

Email: MCS-AFCLAA-Group@mod.uk.

Armed Forces Criminal Legal Aid Authority (AFCLAA)
Building 398c Room 10
Trenchard Lines
Upavon
Pewsey
Wiltshire
SN9 6BE