For active military personnel and/or National Servicemen in Singapore, terms like ‘Court Martial’ and ‘Summary Trial’ would be familiar as they are processes within the military justice system applicable to all Singapore Armed Forces personnel.

All servicemen/women are subjected to the military justice system which is based on the SAF Act (Cap 295). Offenders can be dealt with by informal or formal punishment systems, depending on the case.

Here are a few commonly-used processes and terms in the military justice system and what they mean.

Summary Trial:

This is for military offences, such as absence without leave, non-compliance with lawful orders, and insubordination. Failure to complete your IPPT over repeated warnings could also lead to a summary trial. Possible sentences may include fines or detention.

General Court Martial:

The General Court Martial [GCM] deals with a wider range of offences, with punishments including imprisonment and discharge, on top of sentences like detention and fines. The GCM is also a more public and open forum, and its proceedings are conducted using similar legal rules and procedures as those used in a civilian criminal court. Offences covered by the GCM include drug-related offences, cheating and assault.

Offenders are usually punished via one of these systems:

  1. Informal Punishment System – Commanders are empowered to mete out informal punishment or administrative orders like extra duties;

  2. Formal Punishment System – for serious offences. The offender can be dealt with by way of a summary trial or before the Subordinate Court Martial;


In a General Court Martial, the offender may choose to be represented by a criminal lawyer or an SAF Defending Officer. The Criminal Lawyer will submit representations to AGC and the Director Legal, MINDEF for the matter to be withdrawn, compounded etc.


An accused person who has been detained may apply for bail, pending investigation or appeal. If the application is successful, the offender will be released from detention, and entrusted to the custody of the person who posted bail – similar to the bail process in a civilian court. To know more about what bail is, click here.

How We Can Help

Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu has represented servicemen, both NSMen and Regular Servicemen facing some of the following charges at the SAF Court Martial:

  1. Drug consumption/possession;
  2. Drug trafficking;
  3. Theft;
  4. Dishonest misappropriation of SAF property;
  5. Unlawful arrest;
  6. Damage to and loss of SAF property;
  7. Endangering life or property;

Our Criminal Lawyer, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, has defended numerous clients over the years. With vast experience in Singapore’s laws, including military law, Mr Amarjit Singh Sidhu will be able to provide valuable and timely advice for your situation.

If you need more information, do reach out to us using the form here.

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