The judicial system in most common law nations features an adversarial model in the conduct of legal proceedings. This requires the participation of two sides (parties) who argue before the court their opposing versions of the facts and the applicable law. Some key elements of the adversarial model are as follows:
- Party control over thecase - each side decides whether to institute or defend proceedings, what points are in issue and which arguments to rely upon and what evidence should be presented. This freedom to decide how the trial will proceed is limited only by the rules of evidence and rules of procedure, including court rules about case flow management.
- An independent and impartial judge (or magistrate) presides over the proceedings and decides questions of law, and where there is not a jury, questions of fact.
Witnesses are examined orally first by the party who called them and then cross-examined by the other side.
Civil matters - the parties are the plaintiff and defendant
Criminal matters - the parties are the Crown (or State) and the defendant. A prosecutor conducts the case on behalf of the Crown. In the Magistrates Court the prosecutor is a police officer whereas in the higher courts the prosecution is conducted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The plaintiff or prosecutor must prove their case before the court.
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