Defence Counsel Services (DCS) ensures provision of timely and proficient legal assistance within the military justice system, including in applicable administrative proceedings, to members of the ADF and others. In practical terms, DCS coordinates and manages access to assistance by identifying and promulgating a panel of ADF legal officers, permanent and Reserve.
DCS reports directly to the Chief Operating Officer and is hosted by Divisional Support Section within the Defence Legal Division.
The Director, Defence Counsel Services (DDCS) has the following responsibilities:
• To facilitate and co-ordinate legal assistance for persons facing trial before court-martial or Defence Force magistrate, and persons affected by the ADF administrative inquiry process, particularly commissions of inquiry and boards of inquiry.
• To facilitate legal assistance for ADF members, as directed.
• To assist legal officers with pre-trial or pre-hearing administration and preparation.
• To assist legal officers and affected ADF members throughout the hearing/trial and/or inquiry processes.
• To take necessary steps to secure witnesses on behalf of accused persons in proceedings before a service tribunal.
• To maintain a list (pursuant to s101F of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982) of legal officers who are willing to assist persons facing interview by an investigating officer in relation to a service offence.
• To contribute to the development of legal policy and legislation affecting accused persons, appellant/respondents, potentially affected persons, single representatives of deceased, defending officers and counsel representing.
DDCS may be tasked by Defence Legal to coordinate legal assistance for entitled ADF personnel involved in specific incidents where it is appropriate that a centrally-coordinated approach to the provision of legal support be adopted. This is usually due to the sensitive nature of some matters that require legal support from across the country.
DDCS maintains a panel of ADF legal officers (DCS Panel) from which legal assistance is drawn. The majority of those legal officers who The Chain of Command (rather than DDCS) arranges legal assistance in respect of summary disciplinary proceedings.
DDCS also has command responsibility over three RAN permanent legal officers whose primary task is the provision of legal support and assistance to RAN personnel. These legal officers are located at HMAS Stirling, HMAS Cerberus and Defence Plaza Sydney (Fleet Based East), respectively. DDCS works collaboratively with the Chain of Command at each location in support of the career development of the legal officers.
Section 101F of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 requires the CDF or his delegate to establish and maintain a list of ADF legal officers who are willing to assist persons who are in custody at, or in the vicinity of, prescribed places. The CDF has delegated this responsibility to DDCS.
The s101F list is to be used for that purpose only: other requests for legal services are to be directed to the relevant authority, namely DCS or the member’s Chain of Command.
• The Legal Officer List is only available on the DDCS DRN site.
Complaints and suggestions, in relation to the services provided by the directorate or legal officers appointed by the directorate should be made to the Director using the details provided below under “Contact Details”.
The following number is available to contact the directorate after hours:
0488 337 055