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Types of Legal Systems and Forensic Psychology

courts, psychology of courts, lawyers, court psychology, types of legal systems, legal systems

Today’s episode of The Psychology World Podcast is on Types of Legal System and Forensic Psychology.

Feel free to check out my new psychology books below:

Today’s show notes are from my Forensic Psychology book:

Adversarial system:

This is the legal system that the United Kingdom and the United States tend to use and in this system, the trial is a contest between the prosecution and defence were they call witnesses, cross-examine and present evidence to try to win over the other.

Furthermore, the questioning is governed by strict rules where the judge acts as the umpire with the presumption being innocent until proven guilty.

It’s the barrister’s job to present a compelling argument for the offender’s guilty.

Whilst, it’s the defence’s job to challenge the soundness of the case. However, interestingly; and I was surprised when I learned this fact, but the defence doesn’t have to prove their client’s innocence.

Additionally, when it comes to the burden of proof in the Adversarial system when it comes to criminal cases were a law or regulation has been broken. The burden of proof is beyond reasonable doubt.

Whereas in civil cases where a moral wrong has been committed it’s all about the balance of probability.

An example for the criminal case would be X killed someone in a road accident; so, a law has been broken. In order to meet the burden of proof and charge X with the crime. The judge or jury would have to be certain beyond reasonable doubt that X did kill this person.

Whereas, for a civil case were a member of the family was rear-ended in their car. In order to charge the person driving the car who rear-ended them. The judge would have to balance the probability of whose fault it was and it would have to be more probable in order to charge them with the crime.

Lastly, when the UK legal system and the US system was compared a number of differences were found. For example, the UK system improved memory of evidence presented and juror’s confidence in their verdict as well as the influence of judges non-verbal cues.

On the other hand, the two systems failed to demonstrate how the two different systems affect the trial outcome.

The Inquisitorial system:

Before, we dive into what the inquisitorial system is.

I have to say that I love this system but not for the reason that you think.

Personally, I am nearly obsessed with the Inquisition.

I love the word Inquisition.

Mainly because I love the sci-fi fantasy universe of Warhammer 40,000 and they have an Inquisition and their Inquisitors are amazing.

Therefore, whenever I come across something to do with the Inquisition or something related. I quickly become interested.

Anyway, now that the fanboy stuff is over. Let’s learn about the Inquisitorial Legal System.

What is the Inquisitorial system?

This is the legal system that is dominant in mainland Europe and in this legal system judges play a greater role where they act as investigating magistrates. Where they decide which witnesses to call and they direct police efforts.

In other words, the line between the police and the court is blurred because as mentioned in the Adversarial explanation the police are one separate entity then the judge and prosecution

serve is another entity.

However, for the Inquisitorial system, this isn’t the case.

As a result, judges have a more active role, lawyers take more of a secondary role. Resulting in less procedural rules.

The adversarial British system could be a response to the historical shortcoming of the Inquisitorial system.

The inquisitorial ‘jury’ is a made up of a judge and laypeople.

I hope you’re enjoyed today’s episode.

If you want to learn more about Forensic Psychology then please check out my Forensic Psychology book and sign up for my newsletter to receive your FREE book.

Plus, please feel free to check out my new psychology books at

Have a great day everyone,


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