Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971

If you need more information about this Act, please contact the administering agency: Ministry of Defence

Version as at 28 October 2021

Coat of Arms of New Zealand

Armed Forces Discipline Act 1971

Public Act
1971 No 53
Date of assent
12 November 1971
see section 1(2)

The Parliamentary Counsel Office has made editorial and format changes to this version using the powers under subpart 2 of Part 3 of the Legislation Act 2019.

Note 4 at the end of this version provides a list of the amendments included in it.

This Act is administered by the Ministry of Defence.


1Short Title and commencement
3Special provisions relating to the interpretation, etc, of Part 2
4Extraterritorial operation of this Act
5Active service
5ATransitional, savings, and related provisions
5BAct binds the Crown
6Persons in the Navy, the Army, and the Air Force
7Provisions of Act may be modified, etc, in relation to certain classes of persons [Repealed]
8Members of the Armed Forces attached to forces of another country remain subject to this Act
9Members of other forces attached to Armed Forces under section 23A of Defence Act 1990
12Prisoners of war
13Spies, etc
14Commanding officer in relation to prisoners of war and spies
15Application of Act to passengers in HM ships, aircraft, and vehicles
16Certain civilians closely associated with Armed Forces subject to this Act
17Certain persons sentenced under this Act to remain subject to this Act
18Trial and punishment of person who has ceased to be subject to this Act
19Status and rank of person deemed to be subject to this Act when imprisoned or detained
20Limitation of time within which charges may be dealt with summarily or tried under this Act
21Person may not be tried under this Act and under the civil law in respect of same act or omission
22Persons cannot be tried under this Act for offences already disposed of
23Aiding the enemy
24Communication with the enemy
25Unauthorised disclosure of information
26Spying in ships or establishments abroad
27Seduction from duty or allegiance
28Cowardly behaviour
29Offence to create alarm or despondency
30Offences in relation to capture by the enemy
33Failure to suppress or report mutiny
34Offences by or in relation to a person on guard duty or on watch
35Violence to a superior officer
36Insubordinate behaviour
37Obstruction of provost officers
38Disobeying a lawful command
39Failure to comply with written orders
40Failure to comply with directions given by the captain of a ship or aircraft
41Ill-treatment of person of lower rank
42Cruel or disgraceful conduct
43Fighting or causing a disturbance
44Resisting arrest
45Escape from custody
45AFailure to answer bail
46Permitting the escape of prisoners
48Absence without leave
49Avoidance of duty
51Drunkenness and being under the influence of drugs
52Being in possession of alcohol in a ship, establishment, camp, or base
53False statements on appointment or enlistment
54Official corruption
55Falsification of service documents
56False statement in order to obtain benefit
57Stealing service property or property of comrade
58Receiving service property or property of comrade
59Unlawful possession of service property or property of comrade
60Conversion of vehicles, etc
61Destruction of or damage to service property or property of comrade
62Loss of service property
63Improper disposal of decorations and issued property
64Losing or hazarding a ship, aircraft, or armoured fighting vehicle
65Dangerous acts or omissions
66Inaccurate certification
67Offences in relation to the driving of vehicles
68False accusation
69Delay or denial of justice
70Offences relating to proceedings of military tribunal or court of inquiry
71False evidence
72Endangering the health of members of the Armed Forces
73Conduct prejudicial to service discipline
74Offences against the civil law of New Zealand
75Parties to the commission of offences against this Act
76Attempts to commit offences against this Act
77Accessories after the fact
78Jurisdiction of Court Martial
79Court Martial to pass 1 sentence only
80Discretion of Court Martial as to punishment
81Consent of Governor-General required before sentence of death can be carried out [Repealed]
81AEffect of period spent in custody before being sentenced
82Dismissal from service and reduction in rank
83Maximum term of detention
84Reduction in rank and forfeiture and stay of seniority of service
85Punishment by fine
86Compensation for loss of or damage to property
87Restitution of property
87ASuspension of compensation and restitution orders made by Court Martial, etc
88Arrest without warrant
89Arrest under warrant
89AArrest of members of visiting forces
90Arrest of spies, etc, abroad
91Arrest of person unlawfully at large
92Arrest of deserters and absentees
92AArrest of deserters from other armed forces
93Detention in civil custody of arrested persons
93ADetention in service custody of person charged by civil authority
93BDetention in service custody of members of visiting force
93CPolice not to deliver custody of arrested person without consent of Minister of Justice in certain cases
94Reasonable force may be used to arrest or search
95Search in connection with suspected offence
96Searches to prevent smuggling, etc
97Customary powers of search not affected
98Search of person in service custody, etc
99Disposal of property taken in search
100Duty of persons arresting
101Delay in dealing with person after arrest
101AJudge Advocate General may grant bail pending trial
101BIssue of warrant to arrest person absconding or breaching bail condition
101CPerson arrested under warrant for absconding or breaching bail condition must be brought before Judge Advocate General
101DRestrictions in relation to midshipmen, officer cadets, and chaplains
101EAppointment of Director of Military Prosecutions
101FFunctions and duties of Director of Military Prosecutions
101GPower of Director of Military Prosecutions to direct investigation
101HPower of Director of Military Prosecutions to stay proceedings
101IDirector of Military Prosecutions to perform functions and duties, and exercise powers, independently of ministerial control and of command
101JDirector of Military Prosecutions must report annually to Attorney-General on performance of functions and duties, and exercise of powers
101KDirector of Military Prosecutions must act under general supervision of Solicitor-General
101LDelegation of functions, duties, or powers of Director of Military Prosecutions
102Investigation of charges
102ACommanding officer must determine whether offence is specified offence
103Disposal of charges by commanding officers
104Disposal of charges by superior commanders
105Disposal of charges by detachment commanders
106Disposal of charges by subordinate commanders
106ASuspension of compensation and restitution orders made summarily, etc [Repealed]
107Effect of delegation
108Officer is empowered to act as disciplinary officer
109Charge must be referred to subordinate commander in certain circumstances
110Charge must be referred to commanding officer, superior commander, or detachment commander in certain circumstances
111Accused must be remanded for trial in Court Martial and charge must be referred to Director of Military Prosecutions in certain circumstances
112Charge must be certified if disciplinary officer may impose certain punishments or make certain compensation orders
113Amendment of charge
114Assistance to accused
115Assignment of presenting officer
115APunishments of detention may be suspended [Repealed]
116Arraignment by disciplinary officer
117Plea of guilty
117ASubordinate commander may punish accused or refer charge to commanding officer or detachment commander
117BCommanding officer, detachment commander, or superior commander who receives guilty plea or receives referral must consider certain matters
117CConsideration of whether accused who pleads guilty should be given right to elect trial by Court Martial
117DAccused who pleads guilty must be informed if he or she has right to elect trial by Court Martial
117EAccused who pleads guilty must be punished in certain circumstances
117FAccused must be remanded for trial in Court Martial and charge must be referred to Director of Military Prosecutions in certain circumstances
117GProcedure following mixed pleas
117HChange or amendment of plea
117IProcedure following plea of not guilty
117JDisciplinary officer must determine whether prima facie case is made out after hearing of evidence in support of charge
117KDisciplinary officer must consider whether he or she has sufficient powers of punishment and whether he or she can act as disciplinary officer
117LDisciplinary officer must consider whether accused should be given right to elect trial by Court Martial
117MDisciplinary officer must inform accused if accused has right to elect trial by Court Martial
117NDisciplinary officer must remand accused for trial in Court Martial or try charge summarily
117ODisciplinary officer must advise accused and hear evidence on behalf of accused
117PPresenting officer and disciplinary officer may call or recall witnesses
117QDisciplinary officer must determine whether accused is guilty or not guilty
117RProcedures to be followed before imposing punishment
117SDisciplinary officer may impose punishment, order offender to appear for punishment if called on, or discharge offender
117TOrder to come up for punishment if called on
117UOffender to come up for punishment
117VTypes and maximum amounts of summary punishments
117WCertain punishments must not be imposed unless offender was given right to elect trial by Court Martial
117XPunishment must be imposed for all offences of which person is found guilty
117YProvisions relating to punishment of detention
117ZReduction of punishments
117ZAOrders for compensation and restitution
117ZBAccused deemed to have waived certain rights in certain circumstances
117ZCImplications of election must be explained to accused
117ZDAccused does not have certain rights if accused is tried summarily or otherwise dealt with under this Part
117ZERecording proceedings before disciplinary officer
117ZFReferral of charge must include referral of related charges
117ZGDocuments and information to be provided to accused and Director of Military Prosecutions
117ZHReference back of charge by Director of Military Prosecutions
117ZIDirector of Military Prosecutions may lay charge before Court Martial
117ZIADirector to determine whether offence is specified offence
117ZJProcedures for prisoners of war, spies, midshipmen, officer cadets, and chaplains
117ZKRelevant evidence admissible unless excluded
117ZLTaking of evidence on oath
117ZMAdmission in evidence of written statements instead of oral evidence
117ZNDisciplinary officers and Summary Appeal Court to take judicial notice of certain matters
117ZOGeneral power to make orders or give directions
117ZPConstruction of charges
117ZQReplacement of disciplinary officer
117ZRObjection relating to personal interest
118Summary Appeal Court of New Zealand established
119Constitution of Summary Appeal Court
120Summary Appeal Court must sit in divisions
121Registrar, clerks, and other officers of Summary Appeal Court
122Chief Judge may delegate to Registrar duty to assign Judges
123Registrar may delegate functions, duties, or powers to clerk or officer of Summary Appeal Court
124Right of appeal
125Notice of appeal
126Registrar and disciplinary officer must provide copies of documents
127Abandonment of appeal
128Effect of appeal on punishments and orders
129Special references to Summary Appeal Court
130Person found guilty must be informed of reference and may comment
131Appeals to proceed by way of rehearing and general power of Summary Appeal Court
131ASpecial provisions in cases involving sexual violation [Repealed]
132Power of Summary Appeal Court in respect of finding of guilty
133Power of Summary Appeal Court in respect of punishments
134Power of Summary Appeal Court in respect of orders for compensation and restitution and orders to come up for punishment if called on
135Supplementary powers of Summary Appeal Court
136Decisions of Summary Appeal Court final
137Sittings of Summary Appeal Court
138When Summary Appeal Court must hold proceedings in closed court
139Summary Appeal Court may limit scope of open court
140Right of appellant to present his or her case in writing and restricted right of appellant to be present
141Defence of appeals and representation of appellant
142Costs of appeal
143Removal of prisoners for purposes of proceedings under this Part
144Duties of Registrar with respect to appeals
145Application of subpart 3 of Part 5 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2011 to proceedings under this Act
146Witnesses may be compelled to attend courts-martial, etc [Repealed]
147Evidence in proceedings under this Act [Repealed]
148Evidence of civil conviction or acquittal
149Evidence of proceedings of court-martial [Repealed]
150Rules of procedure
150AProtection from civil liability
150BPrivileges and immunities of witnesses and of certain other persons appearing before military tribunals and courts of inquiry
150CPower to summon witnesses
150DService of summons
150EContempt of military tribunal or court of inquiry
150FDistrict Court may deal with person who has committed contempt
150GContempt by counsel
151Reconsidering Authority established
152Functions and powers of Authority
153Petition for reconsideration
154Authority must consider petition for reconsideration
155Procedure for reconsideration
155AInformation for victims
156Authority may call for written reports and hear evidence
157Authority may regulate its procedure
158Power of Authority to remit whole or part of sentence
159Chief Judge may delegate to Registrar of Court Martial duty to appoint Judge to Authority
160Armed Forces Discipline Committee established
160AReviewing authority to review decision to take other offences into consideration [Repealed]
161Purpose of Discipline Committee
162Functions of Discipline Committee
163Chief of Defence Force must publish sentencing guidelines
164Appointed member
165Remuneration of members
166Procedure of Discipline Committee generally
166AQuorum for meetings
166BOther procedure at meetings
166CVoting at meetings
166DProtection from liability
167Execution of sentences of death [Repealed]
168Manner in which sentences of imprisonment and detention are to be served
169Committal, removal, release, etc, of members of the Armed Forces serving imprisonment or detention
170Duty of prison managers, etc, to receive service prisoners
171Places in which sentences of imprisonment or detention may be served
172Imprisonment and detention of members of other forces attached to Armed Forces
173Imprisonment and detention of members of Armed Forces attached to other forces
174Interim custody of member of Armed Forces serving imprisonment or detention
175Establishment and regulation of service prisons and detention quarters
176Provisions as to service prisons and detention quarters outside New Zealand
177Commencement of sentences
177AEffect of period spent in custody before being sentenced
178Consecutive sentences
179Limitation of term of detention under 1 or more sentences
180Periods of unlawful absence
181Effect of suspension of sentences [Repealed]
182Termination of suspension of sentence [Repealed]
183Offender under suspended sentence convicted or found guilty of further offence [Repealed]
184Indemnity for prison officers, etc
185Recovery in District Court of fines imposed under this Act
186Fines to be paid into Crown Bank Account
186ACompensation to victims of offences causing physical harm
187Interpretation of terms used in this Part
187ACourt Martial to act through Judge alone
188When Court may find accused unfit to stand trial
188ADetermining if accused unfit to stand trial
188BCourt Martial may postpone finding as to unfitness to stand trial
188CInquiry before trial into accused’s involvement in offence
188DInquiry during trial into accused’s involvement in offence
188EOutcome of consideration of accused’s involvement
189When plea of not guilty may be substituted for plea of guilty [Repealed]
190Finding of insanity
191Order to be made if person unfit to stand trial or insane
192Duration of order for detention as special patient where defendant unfit to stand trial
193Duration of order for detention as special patient when person acquitted on account of his insanity
194Power of Court Martial to commit to hospital on conviction
195Notice to be sent to Public Trustee of certain orders [Repealed]
196Insanity of certain persons while serving sentences of imprisonment under this Act
197Substitution of finding and quashing of sentence where accused was insane [Repealed]
198Powers of reviewing authority if person found unfit to stand trial [Repealed]
198AApplication of this Part
198BInterpretation of terms used in this Part
198CRights to be accorded to victim of specified offence
198DVictim’s views about release on bail of accused or offender
198ERight to receive notice of certain matters and to appoint representative
198FChange of address of victim or representative
198GVictim may opt out of receiving notices
198HSections 40 to 46 of Victims’ Rights Act 2002 apply
198IApplication of sections 198J to 198N
198JNotice of release on bail of accused or offender
198KNotice of release or escape from custody, or of death, of accused or offender
198LNotice of breach of release or detention conditions
198MNotice of discharge, leave of absence, or escape or death of accused or offender who is compulsorily detained in hospital or facility
198NNotice of proposal to cancel or suspend liability for deportation
198OVictim may make submission on consideration of cancellation or suspension of liability for deportation, or offender’s appeal against deportation
199Royal prerogative of mercy
200ACourts of inquiry may be assembled
200BComposition of court of inquiry
200COrder assembling court of inquiry
200DRank and seniority of members
200ETerms of reference
200FCourt of inquiry to sit in private
200GAssembly and procedure
200HSittings of court of inquiry
200IAttendance of witnesses
200JWitness to be sworn
200KCollecting and recording of evidence
200LInterpreters and recorders
200MProcedure if conduct of superior officer may be in question
200NRights of person who may be affected by inquiry
200OMatters president must take into account in determining whether person affected by inquiry may be legally represented
200PWhat happens if person affected by inquiry wishes to call witness
200RSigning and dispatch of record of proceedings
200SAdmissibility of record of proceedings, etc
200TRecord of proceedings not to be disclosed
201Inquiry on absence of member of the Armed Forces
202Pay, service, and effects of deserters and absentees
203Appointment and functions of Judge Advocate General
203ADeputy Judge Advocate General
204Orders by convoy commanders and commanding officers of escorting ships
206Defence Force Orders
206AApplication of Legislation Act 2019 to Defence Force Orders
207Transitional provisions [Repealed]
208Repeals, amendments, and savings

An Act to consolidate and amend certain enactments of the Parliament of New Zealand and the Parliament of the United Kingdom relating to the discipline of Her Majesty’s Armed Forces of New Zealand, and to provide for the discipline of and the administration of justice within those forces

Title: amended, on 1 January 1987, pursuant to section 29(2) of the Constitution Act 1986 (1986 No 114).