According to this answer,


Opposing counsel was called as a witness for examination in the American scopes trial.

Is such a practice allowed in English trial practice? Concerns here that come to mind:

Must a witness have previously filed a witness statement per se if they are to be called to the stand? Opposing counsel nonetheless will be physically present and available at the trial, AND will have drafted/submitted case presentation or argument outlines to the court on which they may be questioned.

If not, are there any other techniques which may be employed to be able to achieve this sort of direct dialogue wherein the coherence/integrity of the opposing counsel’s legal arguments may be challenged?

  • 5
    Note that in the Scopes trial, Darrow called Bryan to testify as an expert on the Bible, and the questions were all on that subject. There were no questions asked about his legal arguments. Furthermore, Bryan's entire testimony was stricken by the judge on the following day. Mar 14, 2023 at 3:22
  • Okay but it’s just a point of departure for the question. Mar 14, 2023 at 3:25
  • In the English system (as copied in the US etc), the approach is nominally that two sides each put a separate case and the judge or jury decides which is more convincing. Most arguments are about fact and which witness to believe. That doesn't really depend on complicated legalistic interrogation of the opposite side. It may be different in other legal systems.
    – Stuart F
    Mar 15, 2023 at 14:49

1 Answer 1


What would be the point?

Legal arguments are not made in front of the jury or the witness. Nor are they made on oath.

They are made to the judge who hears the position of both sides and can ask questions if they want. Normally, the discussion is polite and relatively free-flowing. The judge may put forward their own view of the law. They may consult statute books or query case law to sort it out then and there.

If it’s really complicated, the judge may call for written submissions citing authorities and may call an adjournment while that happens, or they may excuse the current witness and come back to them when the matter is resolved.

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