Adversarial or Inquisitorial

Do We Have a Choice?
  • Hans F. M. Crombag
Part of the Perspectives in Law & Psychology book series (PILP, volume 17)


At first sight the difference between inquisitorial and adversarial legal systems appears to be a matter of form. Does this form hide substance or is it merely a matter of appearances? To answer this question one could make a list of objectives that one wants a legal procedure to serve, and next do a series of experiments to decide empirically which objectives are best served by which system. As a matter of fact, at one time this was done by John Thibaut, Laurens Walker and their co-workers (Thibaut & Walker, 1975). In a series of experiments they compared different procedures for settling legal disputes, ranging from inquisitorial to adversarial, and on the basis of these results they claimed that the adversarial procedure is superior to the inquisitorial when it comes to establish the facts of a case, and to combating external and internal bias. Moreover, when given a choice, experimental subjects invariably prefer adversarial procedures over inquisitorial ones, irrespective of what these experimental subjects were used to in their own countries.


Fair Play Legal Procedure Plea Bargaining Legal Dispute Internal Bias 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans F. M. Crombag

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