The law - The system of justice

4 important questions on The law - The system of justice

What is an adversial system of justice?

It means that a court has to decide if a person is or isn't guilty of a crime after hearing arguments and evidence from both sides, being the defence and the prosecution. It is not the business of the court to find out the truth about what happened.

Explain how a jury works.


Juries consist of 12 (in Scotland 15) people selected at random from the list of voters. After having heard the prosecution and the defence in a court case they reach a verdict, in which they pronounce the defendant either guilty or not guilty.In order to reach a verdict there must be agreement among at least ten of them. The jury system is regarded as a symbol of British freedom.


What can a convicted person do?

1. accept the sentence and do the time.
2.  appeal to the Appeal Court in London to have the conviction quashed or the sentence reduced
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Mention reasons for doubt about the jury system

  • Juries often find the defendant "not guilty" (an increase from 32 to 43% in the 1990s)
  • Modern cases often involve a mass of technical information that an ordinary person cannot be expected to understand
  • Juries are often unrepresentative
  • It is the duty of every citizen to be available for jury service, but few people want to do it: spending weeks or longer in a court room listening to boring evidene instead of getting on with your normal life, you get paid on expenses, you do not earn a fee.

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