All service personnel have the statutory right to raise a Service Complaint.
An individual serving in the Armed Forces who believes that they have been wronged or who wishes to bring a claim to the Tribunal must first lodge a Service Complaint and comply with the procedure set out in the Armed Forces (Service Complaints) Regulations 2015 (2015 Regulations) as enacted under Part 14A Armed Forces Act 2006 and amended by the Armed Forces (Service Complaints)(Amendment) Regulations 2022.
JSP 831 sets out the procedure for Service Complaints. The Service Complaints process is now subject to oversight by the Service Complaints Ombudsman for the Armed Forces (“SCOAF”).
A Service Complaint is made by a Service person submitting a statement of complaint to a Specified Officer (SO). The SO will be an officer within the relevant single Service Secretariat Central Admissibility Team (CAT), who is outside of the Complaint’s direct CoC, and properly appointed to undertake the role. If deemed admissible a Decision Body will be appointed to investigate and decide the complaint. The Heads of Complaint that are deemed admissible will be investigated and a report will be prepared. The report will be sent to the Claimant for comment. The appointed Decision Body will then make a decision regarding the Heads of Complaint, which decision will be provided to the Claimant. The Claimant may accept the decision of the Decision Body or seek further review through the Service Complaints appeals process.
Unless the appointed Decision Body is the Defence Council, the Claimant will have a right of appeal to an Appeal Body. Should the Claimant be dissatisfied with the Appeal Body decision he has a further right of review of substance of the decision of the Appeal Body to the SCOAF.
There is also the right to seek Judicial Review (this right is subject to strict time limits (you must act promptly, and normally legal proceedings should be issued within 3 months from the decision or matter complained of) and we recommend that you take independent legal advice as a matter of urgency if you wish to bring an action for Judicial Review).
In the event of most forms of discrimination (subject to complex rules) to also pursue the matter to an employment tribunal. At Forces Law we can advise you and if appropriate help you make a complaint if you feel you have been discriminated against due to your race, ethnic origin, religion, sex or sexual orientation.
Military employment law is very complex, particularly in respect of time limits and procedure and, we recommend that you take specialist advice as soon as possible.
We can also help you make a formal complaint and/or damages claim if you have suffered harassment, victimisation or bullying.
The most important point that we can make is to take advice from one of our specialist firms as soon as possible if you have any related query.