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Adversarial system

The adversarial system or adversary system is a legal system used in the common law countries where two advocates represent their parties case or position before an impartial person or group of people, usually a judge or jury, who attempt to determine the truth and pass judgment accordingly. It is in contrast to the inquisitorial system used in some civil law systems where a judge investigates the case. The adversarial system is the two-sided structure under which criminal trial courts operate, putting the prosecution against the defense.


In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and interpreting law. Although appellate courts have existed for thousands of years, common law countries did not incorporate an affirmative right to appeal into their jurisprudence until the 19th century.

Appeal procedure before the European Patent Office

The European Patent Convention, the multilateral treaty instituting the legal system according to which European patents are granted, contains provisions allowing a party to appeal a decision issued by a first instance department of the European Patent Office. For instance, a decision of an Examining Division refusing to grant a European patent application may be appealed by the applicant. The appeal procedure before the European Patent Office is under the responsibility of its Boards of Appeal, which are institutionally independent within the EPO.

Attachment of earnings

Attachment of earnings is a legal process in civil litigation by which a defendants wages or other earnings are taken to pay for a debt. This collections process is used in the common law system, especially Britain and the United States, but in other legal regimes as well. Ballentines Law Dictionary notes that this process is not literal, whereby a "persons property is figuratively brought into the court." The earnings seized may be wages, certain benefits, or sales commissions. A sheriff, constable, or marshall enforces the court order.

Bar (law)

In law, the bar is the legal profession as an institution. The term is a metonym for the line that separates the parts of a courtroom reserved for spectators and those reserved for participants in a trial such as lawyers.

Bench (law)

Bench used in a legal context can have several meanings. First, it can simply indicate the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. Second, the term bench is a metonym used to describe members of the judiciary collectively, or the judges of a particular court, such as the Queens Bench or the Common Bench in England and Wales, or the federal bench in the United States. Third, the term is used in a to differentiate judges, who are referred to as "the bench", from attorneys or barristers, who are referred to as "the bar". The phrase "bench and bar" denotes all judges and lawyers collectively. The term "full bench" is used when all the judges of a certain court sit together to decide a case, as in the phrase "before the full bench", which is also referred to as "en banc". The historical roots of the term come from judges formerly having sat on long seats or benches freestanding or against a wall when presiding over a court. The bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom. The bench was a typical feature of the courts of the Order of St. John in Malta, such as at the Castellania, where judges and the nominated College of Advocates sat for court cases and review laws.

Call to the bar

The call to the bar is a legal term of art in most common law jurisdictions where persons must be qualified to be allowed to argue in court on behalf of another party and are then said to have been "called to the bar" or to have received a "call to the bar". "The bar" is now used as a collective noun for barristers, but literally referred to the wooden barrier in old courtrooms, which separated the often crowded public area at the rear from the space near the judges reserved for those having business with the Court. Barristers would sit or stand immediately behind it, facing the judge, and could use it as a table for their briefs. Like many other common law terms, the term originated in England in the Middle Ages, and the call to the bar refers to the summons issued to one found fit to speak at the bar of the royal courts. In time, English judges allowed only legally qualified men to address them on the law and later delegated the qualification and admission of barristers to the four Inns of Court. Once an Inn calls one of its members to its bar, they are thereafter a barrister. They may not, however, practise as a barrister until they have completed or been exempted from an apprenticeship called pupillage. After completing pupillage, they are considered to be a practising barrister with a right of audience before all courts. England and Wales and some other jurisdictions distinguish two types of lawyers, who are regulated by different bodies, with separate training, examinations, regulation and traditions: Barristers primarily practise in court and generally specialise in advocacy in a particular field of law; they have a right of audience in all courts of England and Wales. Solicitors do not necessarily undertake court work, but have a right of audience in the lower courts magistrates courts and county courts. They are admitted or enrolled as a solicitor, to conduct litigation and practise in law outside court, e.g., providing legal advice to lay clients and acting on their behalf in legal matters. A solicitor must additionally qualify as a solicitor-advocate in order to acquire the same "higher rights" of audience as a barrister. In other jurisdictions, the terminology and the degree of overlap between the roles of solicitor and barrister varies greatly; in most, the distinction has disappeared entirely.

Case stated

In law, a case stated is a procedure by which a court or tribunal can ask another court for its opinion on a point of law. There are two kinds: consultative case stated and appeal by way of case stated. A consultative case stated is made at the discretion of a judge before he or she determines the case before the court. An appeal by way of case stated is made at the request of a party to the proceedings to the judge after the conclusion of a case. On the hearing of a case stated, the higher court is restricted to consideration of the law alone and is required to accept the statement of facts submitted to it by the lower court. If the application is granted, the matter is referred to the higher court. This usually takes the form "were we/was I correct to." and then the specified aspect of law to which the appeal relates. If the application to state a case is refused, the applicant may be able to seek redress by judicial review. The higher court will determine whether or not the law was correctly applied. If the appeal is upheld, the higher court will refer the case back to the referring court with directions to correct its decision. Otherwise, the appeal would be dismissed.

Chambers (law)

In law, a chambers is a room or office used by barristers or a judge. A barristers chambers or barristers chambers are the rooms used by a barrister or a group of barristers. A judges chambers, on the other hand, is the office of a judge, where the judge may hear certain types of cases, instead of in open court.

Close case

In the law, a close case is generally defined as a ruling that could conceivably be decided in more than one way. Various scholars have attempted to articulate criteria for identifying close cases, and commentators have observed that reliance upon precedent established in close cases leads to the gradual expansion of legal doctrines.