Skip to main content
Subject Guides

Law

Foreign & Comparative Law

Welcome to your online guide to finding resources for law.

Foreign & comparative law

This page of the Law Subject Guide provides information about foreign, comparative and international law resources. Links are provided to useful electronic resources for researching a foreign or compative law topic.

Legal systems

The JuriGlobe World Legal Systems website provides general information on legal systems of the world. Either use the map to navigate to a particular country or select a legal system.

Catalogues

Search YorSearch to locate books and journals on your foreign and comparative law topic. Printed materials relating to the law of other jurisdictions is located at the shelfmark J 349.  

The Library of Congress and Institute of Advanced Legal Studies have both developed specialist online catalogue for foreign legal research. The provide information about where foreign legal materials are available and can be a good starting point when you are considering researching a particular jurisdiction.

Government Gazettes

Government Gazettes will often provide the text of primary laws, as well as policies and decisions. Most countries will publish a gazette, but the content will vary widely.

Constitutions

The following list provides links to some websites that provide links to the text of constitutions and related documents:

Treaties

The following list provides links to online collections of treaties and indexes useful for finding and accessing multilateral and bilateral treaties.

Dictionaries

There may be times when you cannot find an English translation of a foreign law, the Library has a collection of bilingual dictionaries in the Languages Hub on the first floor of the Harry Fairhurst Building which may be useful in these instances. You can search YorSearch to find out which language dictionaries are available.   

A useful collection of online bilingual dictionaries is:  

Comparative law journals

The library subscribes to a number of law reviews and journals that will contain articles on comparative and foreign law topics. Listed below are some of the specialist foreign and comparative law journals that the Library subscribes to:  

Legislation

Foreign laws will often be available in translation in English, especially in areas of corporate, commercial, trade and business law. For other areas of the law it may be difficult to find English translations.

When searching for legislation you can adopt either a subject or a jurisdiction based approach. The following list provides links to some of the jurisdiction and subject collections of foreign laws:  

Cases law

Foreign case law can be difficult to locate. Most courts will have an online presence, but coverage, dates and text availability will vary, with some countries only issuing decisions from the highest court.

Below is a selection of freely accessible and subscription resources for foreign case law:  

Economic and social data sources

When researching a foreign jurisdiction you may want to find some general statistics and background information to contextualise your study, for example, population size, conviction rate, religious beliefs etc. Statistical evidence can inform the conclusions you draw regarding economic, social and political conditions in the past and present.

Links to some quick reference and international data sets are provided below. For more information about finding data sources see the Statistics page.  

Abstracting & indexing databases

When starting to study a foreign or comparative law topic, it can be useful to begin your search by targeting secondary sources to acquaint yourself with the the terminology and gain an overview of the topic. Books will provide information about established theories, see the list of General Comparative Law titles and search YorSearch for material relating to your topic. Journals and Law Reviews will provide commentary on the law, research outputs, and reviews that will inform you understanding of a foreign legal system, use bibliographic databases to identify useful articles on your topic.

The following list provides links to some of the most relevant abstracting and indexing databases for foreign and comparative law:

Subject guides & portals

Subject guides provide a good starting point for foreign legal research. They provide links to useful resources, may of which are freely available online. The following list includes some of the most useful subject guides and portals:

Foreign Legal Materials


Image from: g-point