Adversarial cross-examination is widely perceived by the legal profession as serving purposes which have little if anything to with ensuring that the evidence of witnesses conforms to what continental lawyers call "material truth". In the eyes of many, it exists to serve two other, potentially very different, purposes. First, it is seen as a vehicle for counsel to put before the fact-finder - in grave cases, a jury - his client's version of events. As a New Zealand barrister once candidly explained to a researcher: "In a trial I have three speeches: my opening, my cross-examination, and my closing."

© Guardian News & Media Ltd

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