VFR09100 – Criminal Jurisdiction under the Visiting Forces Act 1952 and Action for Breach: Criminal Jurisdiction under the Visiting Forces Act 1952 – HMRC Internal Handbook

Jurisdiction under the Visiting Forces Act 1952
Waiver of the right of primary jurisdiction
Jurisdiction over dependents
Powers of arrest, search, seizure, etc.
Members of civilian component forces of sending countries who are stationed abroad and their dependents

{#Act1952}Jurisdiction under the Visiting Forces Act 1952

The authorities of the sending country (ie the State to which the force belongs) have the right to exercise any jurisdiction conferred upon them by their legislation over all persons subject to their military legislation.

The UK authorities have jurisdiction over members of a visiting force or its civilian component and their dependents in respect of offenses committed in the UK and punishable under UK law.

Some offenses may be against UK law and the military law of the sending country. In these cases, the following rules apply:

  • the authorities of the sending country have the first right of jurisdiction in the event of an infringement;

  • is born out of and in the course of the performance of his duties as a member of the force or civilian component;
  • is an offense against another member of the visiting force or civilian component or against a dependent of such a member; Where
  • is an offense against the property of the visiting force or a member of a civilian or visiting component or a dependent of such a member;

  • the UK authorities have primary jurisdiction in all other cases.

{#Waiver}Waiver of Primary Jurisdiction

Before taking any offending action, the matter should be reported to the Visiting Force Expertise Unit. The UoE will report the matter to the appropriate authority of the visiting NATO force. Requests for waiver of primary UK jurisdiction by the competent authority should be given sympathetic consideration. In most cases the authorities of the force (US authorities in particular) will treat an offender more harshly than a UK court as they are keen to preserve their good reputation in a host country.

For this reason, the British authority will not be prejudiced if a request for exemption from jurisdiction is granted. Such requests which must be submitted in writing by the Force authorities may be granted by the Visiting Force Expertise Unit, in consultation with VAT International, using the following response form:

“HM Revenue & Customs agrees to waive UK jurisdiction in this matter on the strict condition that your authorities take legal action against [insert name of individual]. If it is decided not to pursue this procedure, please inform this office immediately. »

Waiver of UK jurisdiction is not compulsory and cases may arise where the publicity of a UK court case might be desirable or where there may be other good reasons for not waiving the right to jurisdiction. Such cases should be referred to the Expertise Unit of the Visiting Force who will liaise with VAT International for a decision indicating the reasons why the right of jurisdiction should not be waived.

Any instances where jurisdiction is lifted locally should be reported to the visiting forces expertise unit.

{#Dependants}Jurisdiction over dependents

No specific provision has been made regarding jurisdiction over dependants. In some cases they would fall within the first paragraph of jurisdiction under the Visiting Forces Act 1952, but in general the intention is that jurisdiction over dependents for any offense punishable under UK law be exercised by the UK courts.

{#Arrest}Powers of arrest, search, seizure, etc.

Section 5(1) of the Visiting Forces Act specifically preserves the normal powers of arrest, search, entry, seizure or custody exercisable under UK law for offenses committed or suspected of having been committed.

You must exercise discretion in the exercise of these powers in premises occupied by visiting forces; and, to the extent practicable, the cooperation of the appropriate authorities of the visiting local force should be obtained before taking such action.

{#Civiliancomponents}Members of civilian component forces of sending nations who are stationed overseas and their dependents

The Status of Forces Agreement and the Visiting Forces Act apply only to members of the forces stationed in this country and not to those stationed overseas who may temporarily visit this country.

Any action should only be taken with the advice of the VAT International team.

Comments are closed.