The UK follows an adversarial system of justice whereby

The UK follows an adversarial system of justice whereby the parties
to proceedings investigate the case before them and produce their own evidence whilst
the judge and jury remain neutral.  The adversarial
system requires that the parties, within the limits of the law, put forward arguments
and evidence to demonstrate the guilt of the defendant whilst the opposing
party puts forward their arguments and evidence in a bid to prove the defendant’s
innocence. The judge has the ability to ask questions of the witness or lawyers
for clarification rather than for the purpose of arguing or investigating the
case. The judge’s role is also to summarise the facts of the trial and to advise
the jury on any relevant law.  The role
of the jury is to make a decision of whether guilt has been proved beyond
reasonable doubt or on a balance of probabilities based on the arguments and
evidence presented to them.

In civil cases, the claimant must prove on a balance of probabilities
that the defendant breached their legal duty of care whilst the defendant argues
that they did not breach the said duty. The Civil Procedure Rules 1999 allows a
more interventionist judicial case management role as cases are managed by the
court to ensure that they follow the correct procedure, the court also weigh up
whether the proceedings will justify the cost. Regardless of this, the judge’s
role primarily remains passive.  

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The main advantage of an adversarial system is that it
protects the rights of individuals by eliminating scope for bias and maintains
the presumption of innocence until proven guilty which is a fundamental human
right. However, there are some potential disadvantages which can arise from the
use of this system.

1. Disclosure of
evidence

A party is required to disclose to the other party any
documents it seeks to rely on and any documents which may adversely affect the
opposing party. In an adversarial system, the lawyers have the choice of what
evidence they will present, in some cases this may lead to one party suppressing
evidence which may in fact prove a defendant’s guilt/innocence thus depriving
the other party of key evidence which can lead to injustice. In an
inquisitorial system, this would be avoided as any distortion of evidence by
the lawyers would be easily detected by the courts who play a more
investigatory role in the proceedings.

2. Judgements may be
compelled by the most ‘convincing’ argument rather than evidence

In an adversarial system, the role of the lawyers is to present
the supporting arguments and evidence to the judge/jury, however in instances
where the evidence is not clear cut, whether the defendant is found guilty or
innocent will be based upon the most convincing argument presented. This method
of deciding guilt may not always be the correct result where the defendant may
have actually been innocent but based on good argument, they were convicted.

3. Vulnerable
witnesses

The adversarial process means that lawyers can
call up witnesses & victims for cross examination. The lawyer’s role is to
interrogate the witnesses/victims in a manner which helps expose holes in the
witness/victim story or in a way which helps the lawyer in question support his
case. Cross examination by lawyers can be distressing particularly in cases
involving young children. Commentators have suggested an inquisitorial system
would be more effective as only the judge