Aninquisitorial system of law is common in civil law countries. It isan alternative to the adversarial model of law used in countriesexercising common law such as New Zealand. Inquisitorial system oflaw can be described as a system which aims to get the truth of theissue under by undertaking intensive investigation and analysis ofall the available evidence (Schmalleger, Hall & Dolatowski,2010). The adversarial system on the other hand aims at establishingthe truth through an open competition between the defence and theprosecution for them to make the most convincing argument for theircase. As such, adversarial model of law has been criticized by legalexperts who argue that the pursuit of winning the case usuallyoverlaps the search for truth. One distinct feature differentiatingthe two systems is that, in adversarial systems past decisions byhigher courts are binding on lower courts. In inquisitorial systems,there is little use of case law. This implies that judges are free tosettle each case independently of past decisions, through applicationof relevant statutes. In addition, in adversarial system, theresponsibility for collecting evidence rests with the concernedparties, i.e. the police and the defence. In inquisitorial systemproceedings take three phases, the investigative phase, the examiningphase and finally the trial phase (Brants, 2012).
Thetwo models are not inherently superior. Actually there are severalfeatures common in both systems. Most countries incorporate featuresof the two models, having experienced a degree of convergence for thepast 80 years or so.
TheUnited States uses the adversarial system of law. An example of anadversarial case is the O.J Simpson case in the U.S where JohnnieCochran essentially placed the police on trial. The Schiedam ParkMurder case in the Netherlands is a good example of inquisitorialcase (Brants, 2012).
BrantsC. (2012). Wrongful Convictions and Inquisitorial Process: The Caseof the Netherlands. Universityof Cincinnati Law Review, 80(4). 1069-1114.
Schmalleger,F., Hall, D. E. & Dolatowski, J. J. (2010). Criminal law today(4th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Learning.