Supporters of the adversary system believe it is the best justice system in the world to balance the rights of the individuals against the community’s expectations that people who break society’s laws will be punished.
There are many strengths of the adversary system. Party control is the first strength of the system. The parties are in control of their own destinies. That is, they must prepare and present their own cases and accept the responsibility for the consequences. This is an extension of the basic democratic principle. Truth and conflicting interests is another strength. By giving the parties control over their own affairs, it is more likely that ‘great truths will energy from the powerful conflicting arguments’. Equality before the law is another strength. The parties to the dispute are treated equally before the law. This is a fundamental element of the rule of law. The system also respects the fundamental legal rights of the individual, such as the presumption of innocence, the right to remain silent and the right to present your own case. The judge in the adversary system is completely independent and impartial and cases are decided purely on their merits in accordance with law. Strict rules of evidence are also applied so that both parties have a fair and equal opportunity to put their cases and that only reliable and relevant evidence is allowed. The strict rules of procedure dictate that the trial is one continuous event and that the party making the allegation has the burden to prove it to a strict standard of proof that limits the possibility of a miscarriage of justice. That is, the prosecution must present its case first at the trial.
There are also many weaknesses of the adversary system. Party control assumes that two parties contest the dispute from a position of equality in knowledge, skills, temperament and resources, and that the general rule of the adversary system are fair and equitable. As the following criticisms show, this...
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