The judge’s role is to settle disputes when the parties fail to reach an agreement. This involves:
- interpreting the law;
- hearing the parties and their witnesses;
- assessing the evidence presented to establish its admissibility and credibility;
- presiding at the hearing or trial.
The judge must then render a spoken or written judgment, either at the end of the trial or at a later date.
Trial before judge and jury
In criminal cases heard before judge and jury, the judge must explain the relevant legal rules to the jurors so that they can assess the evidence and facts presented and arrive at a unanimous verdict.
Duties of the judge
Judges must remain impartial. They must also ensure that the parties receive a fair and equitable hearing.
Judges also have a duty to assist and inform the parties, especially if they are representing themselves. In this case, the judge must explain the rules and provide assistance in the form of technical information. For example, the judge may explain court procedure, the concept of burden of proof, and the steps for filing an opposition.