Annual Report: National Military Law Section

  • August 01, 2016

MAJ. J Jason Samson, Chair


The Executive of the Section met on June 3, 2016 in Ottawa, Ont. For the past several years, the Section has met in Ottawa around this time to discuss goals, objectives, governance and advocacy. Teleconferences are held throughout the year as well.


There had been a moratorium on all Section newsletters since fall 2014, while the CBA web platform underwent a relaunch. Since relaunch, the National Military Law Section has had an online article submission section on its webpage. On January 15, 2016, the NMLS Chair (Maj. J. Jason Samson) provided a “Message from the Chair”, available on the Section webpage. The 2015–2016 Sword and Scale essay competition winner was AmĂ©lie Gravel of UniversitĂ© du QuĂ©bec Ă  MontrĂ©al Law School, for her essay entitled Les victimes d’infractions d’ordre militaire : des victimes comme les autres. Her essay will be published on the Articles section of the webpage, under the banner Sword and Scale. The NMLS has also recently received approval for a pilot project for a second Sword and Scale essay competition that will be open to practicing lawyers and articling students. With this contest, the NMLS hopes to increase awareness of military law generally and to increase scholarship on related subjects. We have also commenced discussions with the Office of the Judge Advocate General for permission to post on our Section webpage, useful resources generated by the Canadian Armed Forces and the OJAG for our members.


The Section has several goals for the near future:

  • We will continue providing value for its membership, including for the OJAG.
  • We will attempt to coordinate professional development with strategic partners, including other CBA Sections, Forums and the OJAG. Currently joint events are planned with the OJAG, the Women Lawyers Forum, the Maritime Law Section and the Air & Space Law Section.
  • We will continue to foster the partnership with the Canadian National Group of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.
  • We will continue to support the “Major-General Henry Smith Memorial Award” at the Canadian Jessup Moot Competition.
  • We will continue the NMLS Sword and Scale essay competition for students.
  • We will continue to monitor legislation and law reform initiatives and ensure that our membership receives timely notice of important proposals, and raise the profile of the important advocacy work of the CBA.
  • We will continue monitoring case law developments in military law.
  • We will encourage the publication of articles to be posted on the Section webpage.
  • We will continue to provide useful information to members via the Section webpage. This includes updating the page to make it a ‘go-to resource’ for practitioners.
  • We will continue to provide meaningful professional development opportunities to members in at least three provinces.
  • We will continue efforts to completely install a provincial Military Law Section in Quebec.
  • We will attempt to produce a legal health check in the next 12 months.


For the year 2015–2016, the Nova Scotia Branch of the National Military Law Section currently remains the only provincial subsection. The current executive consists of the Chair: LCdr Hugh Williamson, RCN (ret) and LCol Brian Bailey, (ret). The current membership of the branch is 23 members, of whom 4 are currently OJAG members. In keeping with previous years, the provincial subsection has sought to organize joint sessions with other CBA provincial sections and with the OJAG on matters of mutual interest. Members of the executive take part in regular provincial CBA Council meetings as well as in National Military Law Section meetings.

Increasing the number of members remains a major focus of the subsection, and new strategies are being sought to attract and retain membership.

Past activities this year included:

  • The 11th Annual International Humanitarian Law Conference: Protecting Civilians - Spotlight On Syria was held in fall 2015 at Dalhousie University in conjunction with the Dalhousie University law students society.
  • The Assistant Judge Advocate General/ CBANS-MLS Professional Development Day was held on November 27, 2015. Speakers included: the Chief Judge of the Provincial Court, the Chief Medical Examiner of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Barristers Society Professional Responsibility Director.

Discussions are underway with other local Sections and the OJAG for future joint sessions.