Changes to military justice system require mandatory training for presiding officers by September

Military justice system

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Major changes to the military justice system means that mandatory training for presiding officers must be completed before September 1, 2018.

Sections of the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act will come into force on September 1, introducing a number of substantial changes to the military justice system.

Some of the more significant changes at the summary trial level include:

  • Authority for the presiding officer, when there is a finding of guilt, to direct an absolute discharge, order a suspended sentence or an intermittent sentence;
  • A 6-month limitation period within which a charge must be laid in order for it to proceed at summary trial;
  • An accused person may waive both the 6-month charge limitation period, as well as the pre-existing 12-month limitation period within which a summary trial must commence;
  • Superior commanders may impose minor punishments for officer cadets, such as confinement to barracks, extra work and drill and stoppage of leave;
  • Lieutenant-Colonels may be tried by summary trial by superior commanders holding the rank of Colonel and above; and
  • There is no longer a minor punishment of caution.

The changes enhance fairness and flexibility of the military justice system, demonstrating a continuing commitment to evolve to better serve the armed forces and all Canadians, while remaining relevant and contributing to the Canadian Armed Forces’ operational effectiveness by maintaining discipline, efficiency and morale.

Presiding officers must be fully up to speed on these changes in order to continue to exercise their duties come September 1, 2018. The Presiding Officer Certification Training Update (POCT – Update) is available on the Defence Learning Network (internal link) and must be completed by all presiding officers.

Information and registration instructions for the POCT – Update are available in CANFORGEN 095/18 (internal link).

More information on the upcoming changes is available on

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