Section 4
Justice and fairness agencies

Director of Defence Counsel Services

The position of Director of Defence Counsel Services (DDCS) was established in May 2006 as part of the military justice reforms. The Directorate of the same name, headed by DDCS, sits within the Defence Legal Division (DLD) reports to the Director General Australian Defence Force Legal Services. While not a statutory independent position, day-to-day DDCS operates semi-autonomously from DLD. Moreover, DDCS is located separately from DLD in Fyshwick, ACT (in close proximity to the Australian Military Court (AMC)).

DDCS continues to have responsibility for a number of key military justice functions. Central to work of the Directorate is the management of the Defence Counsel Services Panel (DCS Panel). This panel consists of those ADF legal officers who have made themselves available to provide advocacy services to those ADF members and civilians who have an entitlement to legal representation under Defence-sponsored legislation. Such entitlements arise under the provisions of the DFDA, as well as under the DIRin relation to BOIs and CDF COIs. The panel now consists of around 170 mainly, but not exclusively, reserve ADF legal officers from all three services.

With respect to the DFDA, following the commencement of the AMC’s operations in October 2007, CDF’s formal delegations to DDCS of a number of statutory roles in relation to the courts martial and Defence Force magistrate system were reviewed and renewed to take into account the creation of the new court. Under these delegations DDCS:

DDCS existing delegation from CDF to maintain the list required by DFDA section 101F of legal officers who are willing to assist ADF personnel who are in custody in respect of service offences, has also continued. During the course of 2007, the list was reviewed, amended and re-distributed across the ADF.

In addition to exercising these formal delegations, DDCS was able to make representations on matters of legal policy and legislation from the perspective of accused persons and their Defending Officers in the case of trials under the DFDA. DDCS has also liaised closely with other participants in the AMC processes, such as the Registrar of the AMC and the Office of the Director of Military Prosecutions, in support of both accused persons and their Defending Officers in relation to specific trials.

With respect to CDF COIs and BOIs established under the DIR, when tasked by CDF or in the case of BOIs, by another appointing authority, DDCS provides legal representation from the DCS Panel for persons who are potentially affected by the outcome of the inquiry. In the case of CDF COIs, DDCS provides legal representation to the ‘single representative’ of the deceased person to ensure that the perspective of the deceased is properly accounted for during the inquiry. This has required close liaison between DDCS and the next of kin of deceased ADF members.

Through the DCS Panel, DDCS has also been involved in providing legal assistance to a significant number of ADF members involved in high profile and/or complex matters.