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DISCUSSION TOPIC Adversarial versus inquisitorial legal systems
Two types of legal traditions dominate the nature of investigation and adjudication around the world: adversarial and inquisitorial legal systems. Common law countries use an adversarial system to determine facts in the adjudication process. The prosecution and defence compete against each other, and the judge serves as a referee to ensure fairness to the accused, and that the legal rules criminal procedure followed. The adversarial system assumes that the best way to get to the truth of a matter is through a competitive process to determine the facts and application of the law accurately.
The inquisitorial system is associated with civil law legal systems, and it has existed for many centuries. It is characterized by extensive pre-trial investigation and interrogations with the objective to avoid bringing an innocent person to trial. The inquisitorial process can be described as an official inquiry to ascertain the truth, whereas the adversarial system uses a competitive process between prosecution and defence to determine the facts. The inquisitorial process grants more power to the judge who oversees the process, whereas the judge in the adversarial system serves more as an arbiter between claims of the prosecution and defence (Dammer and Albanese, 2014; Reichel, 2017).
Is America adversarial or inquisitorial? In most common law countries e.g. Wales, England and the United States of America, a system of justice called the adversarial system is used. This is totally different from the inquisitorial system that is used particularly in many European countries and continental jurisdictions.
Soccer VerSuS Football Pizzi (1999) has an especially interesting way to contrast the adversarial and inquisitorial systems. He uses a sports analogy of American football versus European soccer. A notable difference between these two sports—and between the adversarial and inquisitorial justice systems—is in the way rules are applied. In the European trial system and the popular European sport of soccer, rules are relatively few in number and rather easy to express. In the American trial system and the more popular (among Americans) sport of football, rules are numerous and complex.Distinction between adversarial and inquisitorial system
The following table outline contains the fundamental differences between typical adversarial and inquisitorial systems
The adversarial system aims to get the truth through the open competition between the prosecution and the defence.
The inquisitorial system is generally aims to get the truth of the matter through extensive investigation and examination of all evidence.
In an adversarial system all parties determine what witnesses they call and the nature of the evidence they give. The court overseeing the process by which evidence is given.
In an inquisitorial system the conduct of the trial is in the hands of the court. The trial judge determines what witnesses to call
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