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Finding Primary Sources of Foreign Law
Where and how you search for a country's primary law will depend entirely upon the type of legal system, the language, and how (and if) the country publishes its case law, codes, legislation, and other laws. It would be impossible to include all of the world's sources of primary law in one research guide.
For help in finding primary laws from your country of interest, you should refer to background sources, such as the Foreign Law Guide and Globalex, and to secondary materials, such as books and journal articles. The sources listed on this page represent only a small sample of what might be available to you.
Finding Foreign Case Law By Citation
Law Library Databases
Canada Supreme Court Reports
HeinOnline's Canada Supreme Court Reports contains the official bilingual series published under authority of the Supreme Court Act. This collection includes more than 9,400 cases which include background information, statutes and regulations, authors cited, analysis and the decision.
The English Reports delivers exact page images of the original bound reprint edition, containing more than 100,000 cases, together with the Indexes and Book of Charts. In addition, multiple navigation tools, such as a Case Locator, Chart Tool, and an Advanced Search feature enhance the ease of access to specific cases. Also included in this collection is the Statutes of the Realm (1235-1713), along with Pre-1865 Law Reports; available through HeinOnline.
Foreign and International Law Resources Database
Full text database from HeinOnline containing international yearbooks, serials, digests, and decisions.
A multi-jurisdictional citator and legal search engine. It provides invaluable information about cases,legislation and articles and their interdependent relationships.
Revised Statutes of Canada
Complete coverage of all six revisions from the official printed volumes of the Revised Statutes of Canada in nearly 48,000 pages; available through HeinOnline.
The Law Library holds many foreign primary law resources in print, including case reporters, codes, legislation, and official gazettes. The third floor of the library is entirely devoted to housing the Foreign, Comparative, and International Law Collection, which consists of over 90,000 volumes and comprises approximately twenty percent of the Law Library’s holdings. The contains materials in English, French, and a variety of other languages. The collection is especially rich in resources from and about those countries and territories that have had a particular impact on the development of Louisiana law, or whose laws and legal systems are frequently used in comparison with the laws and legal system of Louisiana. Print materials containing primary law can be located using the Law Library catalog.
Primary law materials not available online or in the Law Library's print collections may requested through interlibrary loan.
Please click here for more information on identifying and obtaining print materials.
Open Access Databases
African Online Library on Law and Governance (ALL)
The African Online Library on Law and Governance (ALL) is an innovative online portal available free of charge to all those interested in African law and governance. The Library was initiated in 2012 by the African Innovation Foundation (AIF). The purpose of the AIF is to increase the prosperity of Africans by catalyzing the innovation spirit in Africa. ALL aims to be the leading, innovative online portal for African law and governance, and to improve access to modern and customary law texts, and to other legal documents and secondary sources in the continent of Africa. Through ALL, the Foundation focuses on increasing the visibility, knowledge and consolidation of the legal systems of African States by publishing multilingual legal texts, courts decisions as well as secondary sources available free of charge.
Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII)
The Australasian Legal Information Institute (AustLII) provides free internet access to Australasian legal materials. AustLII publishes primary legal materials (legislation, treaties and decisions of courts and tribunals), secondary legal materials created by public bodies for purposes of public access (law reform and royal commission reports for example), and a substantial collection of law journals.
British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII)
The British and Irish Legal Information Institute (BAILII) provides access to the most comprehensive set of British and Irish primary legal materials that are available for free and in one place on the internet. It is hosted in the UK and Ireland by the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London and the Law Faculty, University College Cork. The databases on BAILII are derived from a number of sources. Some of the data comes from existing free to sites. Most of the databases are based on published and unpublished CD-ROMs or rely upon direct and indirect feeds by relevant courts, government departments and other organizations. All of the data has been converted into a consistent format, and a generalized set of search and hypertext facilities have been added. Further details as to where databases come from are provided on the database home pages.
Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII)
The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is a non-profit organization managed by the Federation of Law Societies of Canada. CanLII's goal is to make Canadian law accessible for free on the Internet. This website provides access to court judgments, tribunal decisions, statutes and regulations from all Canadian jurisdictions. With one million documents across over 200 collections, CanLII is closer than ever to achieving the dreams of its founders to become the best place for lawyers to consult Canadian law.
German Law Archive
The German Law Archive publishes cases, statutes, literature and bibliographies on German law in English language. After a brief period during which the site was dormant, it was relaunched, with a new design, in August of 2015. Content is now being continually updated.
Legifrance is an open access database operated by the the French government entity responsible for publishing legal texts online. It provides access, in French, to laws and decrees published in France's official gazette, as well as important court rulings, collective labor agreements, standards issued by European institutions, and international treaties and agreements to which France is a party. For reference purposes, Legifrance also provides a number of useful links to parliamentary assemblies, jurisdictions, independent administrative authorities, and others. A handful of English translations of French legal texts is available. These translations are for reference purposes only and do not carry the legal force of the original French texts.
Southern African Legal Information Institute (SAFLII)
The Southern African Legal Information Institute publishes legal information for free public access which comprises mainly of case law and legislation from South Africa. SAFLII also hosts legal materials from other countries in the region which are obtained through partnerships, collaborative efforts and more recently through linking to other Legal Information Institutes established in these regions. Countries other than South Africa include Angola, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
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