Law - legal systems

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It has been suggested that an important measure of a civilization is the quality of justice received by its citizens. In the past decade there has been an increasing concern that the traditional adversary system is not adequate to handle effectively all the disputes currently being placed before it.


The expansion of the role of government in the lives of its citizens has brought with it an increasing number of controversies between citizen and state. There is a perception too that as a people we have become more litigious. All this has resulted in an increase in litigation, aggravating the problems within the current judicial structure, causing delays from the ensuing backlog of cases, higher costs to the parties and the taxpayer, the bureaucratization of dispute-processing systems and exaggeration of minor disputes as a result of regulations, delays and costs. Furthermore, both court congestion and high cost are used as bargaining tools to extract settlements which may otherwise be unacceptable.
For many, however, the concern runs deeper. There is a growing awareness that the corner-stone of our judicial structure, the adversary system itself, is not the most appropriate for the effective resolution of all forms of disputes; it may not be capable of resolving a problem to both parties' satisfaction and may easily cause disputes to escalate to more serious levels. Moreover, even though the vast majority of disputes are 'resolved' outside the courtroom, they are still resolved 'under the shadow' of this adversary mentality; for instance, the threat of instituting court proceedings may be enough to exact an inappropriate settlement. ...
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