Summary Hearings

Summary hearings within the military are common. In fact, most members of the armed forces will end up in front of their Commanding Officer at some point throughout their military career – however, having expertise and legal advice behind you beforehand is key.

If the summary hearing procedure leads to a bad outcome, it can be career ruining – so consider if you require legal advice beforehand.

Summary Hearing Procedures

Military personnel should be equipped with an understanding of the process of a summary hearing, as it’s the best way to navigate the process successfully.

If you have been accused of a minor offence such as malingering, drunkenness or disobeying lawful commands, you will face your Commanding Officer.

The CO has the statutory powers needed to take action against you, so whilst members of the service don’t face civilian court for being in violation of UCMJ, a summary hearing is still a serious matter.

The end result of the hearing will decide the next steps. If the CO finds the charge against you is proved then you could face a court martial.

What if you don’t want to deal with your Commanding Officer?

Any person operating as a forces personnel, whether the Royal Navy, Army or the Airforce, can have the matter dealt with without their Commanding Officer.

Whether it’s a minor disciplinary or a criminal offence, you can elect for a trial in the Court Martial, where unlike dealing with your CO, you have the right to legal representation. Don’t worry about taking it to the court though, your sentence will be restricted to the sentences available to your CO.

How DPP Can Help?

Due to the complexity of military law and it’s summary hearing procedure, it’s highly recommended to seek legal advice and a law firm.

The military solicitors at DPP Law have more than 30 years’ worth of experience in successfully defending clients accused of offences in a variety of specialist areas. They can advise you before your Summary Hearing with your Commanding Officer, or represent you should you take it to a Court Martial.

DPP Law Can Advise On Military Law Cases Such As:

Alongside this, our solicitors advise Individuals on:

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is a Summary Hearing?

Summary hearing means the process heard before a Commanding Officer in less serious cases to determine whether the charge against the accused is proved; Sample 1.

What Happens In a Summary Hearing?

Summary Hearing procedures involve the Commanding Officer or a Court Martial (dependent on the accused’s preference) hearing all evidence of the charge, and coming to a conclusion and, if necessary, a sentence.

Is Summary Judgement Final?

Whether you took your charge to a Court Martial or your CO dealt with the matter, if you’re not happy with the result of your Summary Hearing, you can submit an appeal. The Summary Appeal Court will review the hearing’s information, legal proceedings and result.

How Can I Prepare For a Summary Hearing?

Staying informed of how the procedures work, having strong legal advice and representation (if you elect a Court Martial) is key.

What Happens After The Summary Hearing Is Over?

Once all of the evidence has been assessed and legal procedures have been followed, a verdict and corresponding sentence will be given if the accused is found guilty.


Summary Hearings are common, and occur in nearly all service member’s careers, but they can become complicated. Whether you choose to allow your CO to deal with the charge, or take it to a Court Martial, bear in mind the consequences that any charge against you has on your career.

Seeking early legal advice to help you consider your options is essential, so get in touch with DPP Law’s military experts to make the process smoother. They can work to give you the best foundation, represent you before the court and ensure that you receive a fair hearing.

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