Judge Advocate of the Fleet

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Office of the Judge Advocate of the Fleet
Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Ensign of the Royal Navy
Department of the Admiralty, Ministry of Defence
Member ofBoard of Admiralty, Admiralty Board, Navy Board
Reports toFirst Sea Lord
NominatorFirst Lord of the Admiralty, Secretary of State for Defence
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term lengthNot fixed (typically 1–5 years)
Inaugural holderJudge Advocate, J. Fowler

The Judge Advocate of the Fleet was an appointed civilian judge who was responsible for the supervision and superintendence of the court martial system in the Royal Navy from 1663 to 2008.


The position dates to the sixteenth century but was filled on an occasional basis until 1663 when it became a permanent role. Appointments were by Admiralty Order and included an annual stipend worth £146 between 1663 and 1666, and £182 thereafter. From 1824 the Judge Advocate jointly held the office of Counsel to the Admiralty.[1] later styled as Counsel to the Navy Department, Ministry of Defence. A remunerated position of Deputy Judge Advocate existed from 1668 to 1679, and again from 1684 to 1831.[1]

Until 2004 the Judge Advocate shared responsibility for the naval court martial system with the Chief Naval Judge Advocate previously known as the Deputy Judge Advocate of the Fleet, a legally trained serving naval officer who was responsible for the appointment of judge advocates. However the Chief Naval Judge Advocate's post was abolished in 2004[2] following a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that held that, as a serving naval officer, his position was insufficiently independent.[3]

The role of Judge Advocate of the Fleet was taken over by the Judge Advocate General from 2004 onwards.[4] It was formally abolished on 31 December 2008 under the Armed Forces Act 2006.[5]

Judge Advocates of the Fleet


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 J.C. Sainty (1975). "Judge Advocate of the Fleet 1663-1870". Office-Holders in Modern Britain: Volume 4: Admiralty Officials 1660-1870. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  2. Naval Discipline Act 1957 (Remedial) Order 2004, SI 2004/66 Archived 2008-10-12 at the Wayback Machine
  3. Grieves v. United Kingdom (N° 57067/00) Judgment 16.12.2003 [Grand Chamber]
  4. "Military Justice". Judiciary of England and Wales. 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-04-13. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  5. S.272(2)/ Sch.8; s.378(2)/ Sch.17; Armed Forces Act 2006 (Commencement No. 2) Order 2007, SI 2007/2913 Archived 2008-09-08 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Debrett, John (1901). Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage. London: Dean & Son Ltd. p. 361.
  7. Debrett, John (1922). Arthur G. M. Hesilrige (ed.). Debrett's Peerage, Baronetage, Knightage and Companionage. London: Dean & Son Ltd. p. 375.
  8. Mr. C. M. Pitman, K.C. The Times (London, England), Friday, Oct 15, 1948; pg. 7; Issue 51203. (471 words)